Not another student on a volunteer vacation

Last month, my sister-in-law posted on Facebook that my niece, Emma, would be spending three months in Zimbabwe. She was, and still is, proud and scared in equal measure. I was curious.

A bit of background about Emma… She is 20 years old, and has recently started a degree in International Development. This was not her original plan. I’ll let Emma explain:

‘For a long time, I’ve been curious about the world beyond my comfortable bubble in North East London. When I began university, I realised that there were paths I could take to one day hopefully make a positive impact on the global issues that indirectly affect me. I made the difficult decision to change my university course from English Literature to International Development (with social anthropology and politics) and despite the numerous times of doubt and worry, I can now say that it has been the best decision I have ever made in my short twenty years!’

So, when I learned that she was planning to volunteer in Zimbabwe, I wanted to find out more, especially as I had recently had a conversation with a friend about whether ‘voluntourisim’ was a good thing. There are numerous articles about how some of these placements can cause more harm than good in the long term and I wondered where Emma was going, who with and what she planned to do. So I asked her. And I was impressed.

After researching various opportunities, she had decided to volunteer with youth-led charity Restless Development, who work with countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Importantly, this charity only works with communities have specifically requested help. The projects Emma will be working on in Zimbabwe focus on livelihoods and employment, sexual and reproductive health and civic participation. She will be working alongside a local volunteer when she arrives… Which is next month!

Emma explains a little more about her decision to work with Restless Development and what they do, in her brand new blog, Emma’s Restless Journey.

In order to get going on her journey, Emma needs to raise £800 for Restless Development. She’s almost halfway there and just needs a little help… The money she raises does not go towards her placement but directly to Restless to support their ongoing projects so if you’re inspired to donate, head over to Emma’s Just Giving page to help her on her way!

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