A Leeds Trinity University Forensic Psychology student is urging students to consider volunteering abroad after she spent three months in Uganda where she was working alongside other volunteers to fight poverty in some of the world's poorest communities.
Kasi Mistry, who is in her third year at Leeds Trinity, worked on a project run by international development organisation Restless Development, as part of the UK government backed International Citizen Service (ICS) programme.
Kasi's project focused on teaching lessons on sexual health, drug and substance abuse, sanitation and social enterprise in schools as well as running HIV testing and sports events in the community. To fully immerse herself in the local community and gain a better understanding of the challenges they face, Kasi lived with a local host family.
Kasi said: "I loved my placement in Uganda. It was such a great feeling during and after classes and events knowing we had actually made a difference in the community. There were so many misunderstandings about sexual health in the schools we taught in, so my team were able to provide young people with accurate knowledge of areas including menstrual health and contraception, and found that they really engaged in our sessions and learnt from us. Experiencing and living in a completely different culture meant that I could fully embrace and learn from fellow volunteers as well my host family and members of the community, which really made the whole experience so special."
Now back in the UK, Kasi will be taking on an 'Action at Home' project, ensuring that her new skills also benefit the local community. She plans to volunteer with the mental health charity MIND and drug and alcohol service Forward Leeds, before volunteering again with ICS as a team leader.
Kasi added: "Volunteering with Restless Development was such an amazing opportunity to engage with and teach young people in Uganda who don't have access to key topics of learning that we take for granted in the UK. The skills and confidence I have developed during placement will help me in my future studies and career as a forensic psychologist in areas of crime, mental health and rehabilitation working with young people and families. I encourage other students to apply for either role, for the most fantastic, once in a lifetime opportunity."
Jess Sewter, Head of Partnerships and Placements at Leeds Trinity, said: "We always encourage our students to volunteer, either in the UK or abroad, so they become active citizens in the community. What Kasi has achieved in Uganda is incredible and we're delighted that she made such a positive impact on the young people she was working with. At Leeds Trinity we're passionate about helping our students to gain experience outside of their degree studies. Kasi's experience has shown just how much difference volunteering can make to the student and the community."
ICS volunteers, aged 18-25, work on long-term projects that seek to end poverty in some of the poorest countries in the world. The scheme offers young people the chance to gain valuable new skills while working on projects that make a genuine difference to the people they work with and their communities. Those aged 23 and up can also apply to be ICS team leaders.
To find out more about ICS or to apply, visit their website here.