My time volunteering
I volunteered in Mongla, which is in the Southern part of Bangladesh. Our project in Bangladesh was focused on governance, which aimed to increase participation in community affairs, and bridge relations between community members and government officials. The aim was to work with youth clubs who would be a medium between government and the rest of the community. They were established to increase engagement in community affairs and develop active citizens. Our project focused on three areas: Institutional mapping, Financing and Inclusion in sport.
The impact of my placement
Initially engagement and participation of youth club members was very low. This was due to a lack of finances for the members to carry out activities between them and for the rest of the community. There was also a lack of awareness of the services which were freely accessible to community members, presumably because the relationship between community members and the government officials was strained. To overcome these issues, we were able to work in our team to collect information on free services provided from government officers, collate the information into a handbook, publish it and distribute it to schools, youth clubs, government offices, tea shops and local businesses.
We were also able to organise a finance session to make the youth clubs more aware of how they could collect funds for future activities and methods of saving and budgeting. During this event we were also able to enlist the youth development officer to give a talk and offer support to the youth clubs for their development. This produced a positive result as they were able to exchange contacts and discuss further possibilities for training and registration.
Lastly, we were able to provide a safe space for girls to learn about sports activities. It was apparent when we spoke about sport with the community girls, they were uncomfortable discussing the topic, and not many of them take part in sport due to the stigma related to girls in sport. In some cases, it was perceived as unusual due to cultural perceptions of it being a male dominated activity, and some girls seemed shy to do sport in public. To tackle this, we liaised with a P.E teacher to carry out a sports awareness session. We managed to create a safe space to teach girls about the physical and mental benefits of sport and had a sports day later on. We managed to have a high turnout of about 30 community girls, who seemed to enjoy it and were quite competitive.
My unforgettable moments
My placement in Bangladesh gave me an opportunity to offer my insights and really come out of my comfort zone in conversing with many people and enabled me to speak in public spaces. It also enabled me to fund-raise for the first time which was a real challenge but very exciting. I managed to raise £962 which exceeded my original target. My volunteering experience wouldn’t have been possible with the help of the Jack Petchey foundation who assisted me during my fundraising experience.
I have really enjoyed seeing another culture and perspective on things. There was much to take away from the experience, and it humbled me to appreciate all the opportunities that I am given. The people in Bangladesh are very hospitable, they were very welcoming and always offered tea and snacks which was really heart-warming. It was nice to be in a different environment, Mongla was surrounded by ponds and greenery which was beautiful, and the sunsets were great. Their clothing is also very colourful.
The impact my placement has had on me
My experience in Bangladesh taught me that volunteering is a very rewarding experience, I get a lot more fulfilment knowing that I am making an impact on someone no matter how big or small. It's a way also to ensure that people's voices are heard, and their needs are met.
My experience on ICS has made me appreciate the value of impact. It has made me a lot more result orientated, and more driven to ensure that my future work has a direct impact on people or businesses. It is important for young people to get involved to contribute to something meaningful. A lot of the time as young people we tend to doubt that our life choices or actions can mean something. I really recommend this program as it enables you to offer your knowledge and gives you flexibility to do what you want to help other people and challenges you to look at long term results. It also opens your mind to different cultures and perspectives. With this program you are equally working with like-minded people to achieve a goal of development, and you can learn new skills which would be useful for you in future.