Starting your own charity or NGO can seem like a scary prospect. Where do you begin? How do you test your ideas? What contacts do you need to make? And will it really make a difference?
But ICS can be a great chance to get the first-hand experience you need to start your own project after your placement and make positive change in communities around the world.
For volunteer Cianne Jones, ICS was the perfect opportunity to take a break from her work as a family lawyer and concentrate on doing something she cared about – the fight for gender equality.
During her six-month Restless ICS team leader placement in the rural Ugandan community of Busembatia, 30-year-old Cianne gained an insight into the challenges faced by local women and girls.
Alongside her work on placement, Cianne used her free time to undertake a needs assessment with women and girls in and out of school to create programmes to meet their needs.
And then with the experience and contacts she’d made in Busembatia, Cianne launched her NGO, Women in Leadership (WIL) Uganda, with the support of ICS volunteers and community members.
Back in London for International Day of the Girl Child, Cianne explains how ICS made it all possible.
Putting the profits in the hands of women
The biggest challenges girls and women currently face in Busembatia are poverty, child marriage, a lack of girl child education and gender-based violence.
The project has been really successful and we now sell the jewellery on Etsy in our online store, Ba Nyabo (‘the women’). All profits go straight back to the women on the programme, giving them a sustainable income.
Simply can’t afford to pay for training
But whilst there are other organisations working with women and girls, there are very few that currently provide free education and training.
Many women and girls in Busembatia have asked to be trained on things such as computer skills because they simply can’t afford to pay for a course.
Computer literacy is a big area of importance for us, and we created a course to be taught in school and in the local community this year so women and girls could build on these skills for free.
From small resources to big achievements
When we launched our first programmes in Busembatia just over two years ago, we had just two national volunteers and a laptop.
Now two years on, we have six national volunteers, five national interns, two offices and eight programmes spanning three schools across the community.
The ICS programme and my work as a team leader with Restless Development gave me invaluable skills in project management, particularly around managing budgets, monitoring work and leading a team of young people.
"Really importantly, ICS also gave me the opportunity to work closely with stakeholders in Busembatia. All of this combined gave me a platform on which to start WIL Uganda and make sure that all of our work is deeply rooted in the community’s best interests."
Gender equality doesn’t happen overnight
As Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
At WIL Uganda, we envisage a more gender equal society but we are aware that this does not happen overnight.
We hope that with our in-school and out-of-school education programmes and with integrated work with community leaders, we will see change for the better in the community.
We hope to see more girls going to school, obtaining positions of leadership and creating their own sustainable incomes just like their male counterparts.