A Lindfield man will spend Christmas 4,000 miles away from home to help people living in poverty.
Edward Le May, from Lindfield, will be in India this year, working on a project to combat poverty and inequality in the country where almost a quarter of the population live on less than $1.25 day.
Ed, 20, will be working in a team of young British and Indian volunteers on a project to empower marginalised people in rural Rajasthan, focusing especially on youth and women and will be missing out on festive time with friends and family.
He said: “It is weird being away for Christmas, as it is my first Christmas away from home. However the friendships I have made with my other volunteers and villagers will more than do for family this year.
“Instead of turkey I will be eating subji and roti with my host family. The internet connection is poor but the little times I get internet I will send a message home.
“I received a Christmas card from my grandma about two weeks early, which was a very nice surprise to receive.”
The group are working with the local community to improve standards of education, awareness of sexual and reproductive health and access to support from the Indian Government, which many people in isolated parts of the country are often denied.
The 20-year-old travelled to India in November with New Delhi based international development organisation Pravah, through the UK Government funded International Citizen Service (ICS) programme.
He will spend the festive season planning and setting up youth programmes such as gender equal youth clubs.
The volunteer is also working to set up women’s groups and encourage the local community to work with their panchayats (local governments) to create positive change.
“Being in India has been such an experience for me. Seeing Delhi Udaipur and rural Rajasthan has been amazing, scenery like none I had ever seen. The relationships I have built in this village I will remember for a lifetime.
“Some of the highlights have been with my host family washing in the farm well water or learning Hindi and teaching English with my host sister. I hope to think the activities and meeting we are setting up in morra will be remembered and executed when we leave, as I will sure remember them.”
Ed is living with a local Indian family whilst in India, so he can fully immerse himself in the local community and better understand the challenges the community face.
He added: “My host family have been amazing. Living with them has really helped me understand Indian culture and the local community – which in turn helps us have a bigger impact in our project.
“My relationship with my host sister has been great she has looked after me and shown me the ways of village life from hand washing clothes to cooking breakfast, lessons in life I plan to take on in the future.”
ICS volunteers spend three months in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, working alongside local volunteers on projects that focus on issues ranging from sexual health and youth participation in politics, to climate change and sustainable livelihoods.
Since 2012, ICS, has sent more than 1,600 young people from the South East of England to volunteer on projects abroad, alongside young volunteers from the country they’re in.
Young people don’t need cash or qualifications to take part, just the motivation and commitment to make a difference.
To find out more about ICS and to apply visit www.volunteerics.org.
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