Cara said that: ‘Coming on Raleigh ICS was a big step in my life, it has improved my communications skills, made me more resilient, increased my awareness on world issues and inspired me to do something about them. I am still quiet, but volunteering in Nicaragua has given me more self-belief and confidence.’
Cara, 18, volunteered with Raleigh ICS in Nicaragua.
Cara was part of a project which worked to develop skills to better manage natural resources and improve livelihoods of rural communities in Northern Nicaragua.
Some of Cara’s thoughts on coming away with Raleigh:
"Before coming to Nicaragua with Raleigh, I had travelled to places on holiday but never experienced anywhere with such basic facilities, let alone lived and integrated myself into another community for 10 weeks. I had never even been away from my house and parents for more than a week. So even though I am very independent, coming here on this adventure was a big step.
"It was very eye-opening to see the effects of climate change first hand. The aridity of the land here means that our community is dependent on one contaminated water source. This has made me realize how much the activities back in England affect people around the world. One of the other challenges facing our community is lack of refuse collection, and on our action day for rubbish and recycling we collected 68kg of waste from around the community in two hours. This is a lot of rubbish, however, it made me think that if back in Britain there was not any rubbish collections, the streets would be knee deep in litter. The way the youth were so enthusiastic about cleaning their community and learning the song I wrote has inspired me to be more active when I get back home. I am especially interested in raising people’s awareness around unnecessary packaging, and how important it is to live more sustainably.
"I feel that this opportunity has really developed me as a person. As an only child, I found the experience of living in a family with three children and being around other volunteers so much of the time a challenge at points. However, I feel that by pushing me out of my comfort zone it has improved my communication skills. ICS has also made me a stronger and more resilient person by dropping me into difficult situations. I think that I coped well with the challenges thrown at me and my team. As a team we learnt to work better and to find solutions to problems.
"Volunteering here has also increased my awareness about world issues. The people here have much less than us in Britain, and to begin with I was surprised by how easily they cope. I now realize how many of the ‘essentials’ of life in England are luxuries, many of which just introduce additional stresses into our lives. It has also given me the opportunity to work with volunteers from different cultures. Although at times frustrating, due to the different approaches to work, I hope to integrate many of the mindsets and attitudes into my own lifestyle.
"Overall, I am extremely proud of the work we did in the community. I feel that the project has helped to improve awareness of sustainable resource management and we have worked to increase the motivation and know-how of the community to continue to make changes in their lives. I also believe the program has had a substantial impact on the personal development of all the volunteers. Even though I am still quiet, I believe Raleigh ICS has given me more self-belief and confidence. I hope that this will give me the determination to make a change when I get back home and be able inspire others to do the same."