A YOUNG Ewloe woman who spent 10 weeks fighting poverty in Nepal is calling on other young people to consider volunteering overseas.

Marta Chmielecka, 19, travelled to Nepal in February with international development organisation Restless Development.

Her project was part of the UK government funded International Citizen Service (ICS) programme, where she worked alongside young volunteers from Nepal and the UK.

She lived with a local host family so that she was fully immersed into the community and could gain a better understanding of the challenges people there face.

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 and communities they are supporting.

Those aged 23-35 can apply to be ICS team leaders.

Ms Chmielecka said: "The village of Devichour and the neighbouring area in the region of Lalitpur, Nepal is focused on agriculture and trade.

"Our project focused on the theme of livelihood, thus our efforts were directed at both the school children, as well as their farming families.

"Due to the lack of opportunities for young people, we decided to lead school sessions on topics ranging from employability to mental and physical health, in order to help them in and out-of-school, especially as the exam time was approaching.

"Afterwards, to relieve them of the stress, we organised a football competition.

"We had to improvise with creating a football pitch out of rocks and tree branches.

"A few days later, a local youth club decided to invest in the creation of football goals, and ever since they have been in active use.

"My placement team decided to set up organised meetings between the farmers, as we realised that there was no local agricultural union, therefore they lacked the support.

"Due to the physical nature of the work, most of the villagers suffered health problems, so towards the end of our cycle we focused on setting up a health camp - the plans will be taken over by the next cycle.

"I had a fantastic time in Nepal, most of all I enjoyed interacting with all the different kinds of people and their cultures.

"Sometimes it was very difficult to do, but despite the language barrier I found out that sharing food with others always helps you make friends.

"For me, our biggest achievement was co-organising a Women’s Day event in the local Women’s Club, which involved a group dancing and singing competition, as well as a session on menstrual health delivered to over a hundred people.

"Even though menstruation is a very sensitive subject in Nepal, people were glad that we conducted a fact-based session, which didn’t spread any further misconceptions. "

Upon their return to the UK, all ICS volunteers undertake an ‘Action At Home’ project, ensuring that their new skills also benefit their local communities.

More than 15,000 young people from the UK have participated on the programme since 2011.

Felicity Morgan, director of ICS at VSO, said: “It’s really inspiring to hear about the fantastic work Marta did on placement.

"We’re incredibly proud that UK aid is supporting young Brits to bring about positive change in some of the world’s poorest communities."

To find out more about ICS or to apply, visit www.volunteerics.org.