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These volunteers are taking the extra steps to fight poverty

The In-Country Volunteer (ICV) Alumni Grant is an innovative project kick-started by UK volunteers. We catch up with five former volunteers to see how they used the grant to create an inspiring change within their communities. 

Making reusable sanitary pads in Uganda 

Last year, Ugandan volunteer Shipra Ainembabazi, 28, took an engaging approach to promote menstrual health for young girls in the rural area of Jinja. Through training workshops, Shipra helped raise awareness of menstrual hygiene by teaching people on how to make their very own reusable sanitary products.  

A persons hands making their own resusable sanitary towel
© Ginny Lattul
A reusable sanitary towel in Uganda.

“Knowing how to make and use the pads will reduce the number of young girls who currently have no choice but to use dry banana leaves, old mattresses, and sometimes nothing on their period,” said Shipra, explaining the initiative. 

And it wasn’t just the girls who were targeted throughout this initiative. All members of the families were trained in making the reusable pads, whilst the project also aimed to change the narrative surrounding periods and menstrual health.  

“My project will improve school attendance and performance of girls,” said Shipra. “Over 40% of girls in Jinja miss school during their menstruation. This percentage should fall now that young girls and other community members are able to make reusable sanitary pads.” 

Shipra’s project has spread far, reaching over 200 school children, parents, teachers, health workers, and community leaders in Jinja.  

Turning 1,000+ Tanzanian students into SDG ambassadors  

Last year, Kisare Lutambi, 27, and Jossam Josiah, 26, took on the huge task of reaching 1,077 students from five different schools in the Tanzanian districts of Lindi and Dar es Salaam, where the students learnt about and then raised awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  

After learning all about the 17 goals, the students were carefully trained in skills such as presenting, public speaking, and report writing in order to be effective ambassadors of the goals to their peers.  

Subira Bashir, 25, who was part of the project said that she loved the opportunity it allowed her to engage with fellow peers. 

A boy in front of a classroom teaching girls about the sustainable development goals
© Kisare Lutambi
Raising awareness among peers of the Sustainable Development Goals
A group of school children holding signs describring the SDGs
© Kisare Lutambi
Kisare Lutambi and Jossam Josiah reached 1,077 students from five different schools.

“I have never had a chance to stand in a class and raise awareness to students about a topic. This project helped me to do that and helped grow my confidence and organisational skills,” said Subira.  

As a result, Subira was inspired to volunteer with the ICS programme, which she began in June 2018. 

Kisare explained why this project was important.  

"I was inspired to raise awareness for the SDGs because I felt it would be an amazing opportunity for young people to increase their awareness of global issues and create active citizens. The project helped these school children to realise that they have the potential to drive change in their communities.” 

Teaching girls to become the next leaders in Liberia 

In order to tackle a lack of decision-making roles by young women in Liberia, ICS volunteer, Adama Kamara, 22, held three-day conference, where women were trained in leadership, advocacy and peace building. Over the three-day course, 45 women were trained and empowered to take on community initiatives through advocacy and leadership roles in their different areas.  

"We’re all equal so this was an important reminder that people should claim leadership."
Adama Kamara
Former ICV from Liberia

This grant-funded project was particularly important in Liberia where, according to Adama, women often feel excluded from decision making processes. The conference was designed to help them to feel empowered, educated and inspired to take on more decision-making roles within the community.  

“This project was very motivating for participants who felt that men should always be the ones making decisions. We’re all equal so this was an important reminder that people should claim leadership, regardless of their age and gender,” explained Adama.  

Using beads to keep girls in school 

Alexander Adjorvor, 25, used his grant to focus on entrepreneurship among young girls. In the Upper West and Ashanti regions of Ghana, his project was able to increase the school attendance for girls by an incredible 50%, as well as encourage financial independence.

Girls stood in a classroom making necklaces out of small beads
© Alexander Adjorvor
The bead making skills will allow girls to create their own small businesses.

“Puberty is one of the most challenging times for girls in Ghana,” said Alexander when asked what inspired him to apply for the grant. 

“It is often accompanied by the added pressure of cultural expectations and financial pressure to drop out of school,” he added.  

In order to make the lives school of girls in his community easier, Alexander’s grant-funded project reached 400 young girls, who were trained in a range of commercial and entrepreneurial skills. The grant provided skills in bead making, where those involved in the project were equipped to start their own bead businesses to help support themselves throughout their education.  

The importance of protesting in South Africa 

With the help of high-flying CEOs and public figures, Ashley Mupfawa’s workshop in South Africa focused on the importance of peace and leadership within demonstrations. Speakers included Monene Mamabolo, the CEO at AgriAids and Theo Koullapis who is the founder and CEO at Scienceation, who were able to share their technical expertise with the group. 

"If these students can use their influence in their respective universities it has the potential to change the culture of violent demonstrations."
Ashley Mupfawa
Former ICV from South Africa.

“The project helped the community because it raised awareness of the need for peaceful demonstrations. If these students can use their influence in their respective universities it has the potential to change the culture of violent demonstrations in this country,” explained Ashley when asked why she thought a focus on demonstrations was important.  

The event was a success and participants left the workshop inspired to raise awareness of the importance of peaceful demonstrations encouraging them to speak up against the vandalism of property and violence in their areas.  

Would you like to apply for funding?

Do you have an idea that will support your community, but need financial help? Find out more about applying to the In-Country Volunteer (ICV) Alumni Grant.