Returned International Citizen Service (ICS) volunteer Detchema Baptiste describes how her experience in Birisiri, Bangladesh inspired her to volunteer with Leicester YMCA back home and empower young people to take control of their lives and get back into education.

Detchema and fellow ICS volunteer teach young people English in Birisiri, Bangladesh

During my time in Birisiri, Bangladesh I learnt that many young people in the area do not to go to school due to personal circumstances and experiences. With a lack of education, they were unable to get jobs; even the in-country volunteers, who receive a temporary income from ICS, admitted they had volunteered with the hope to provide their families with an income.

I could not help draw parallels between the young people of Birisiri and the young people back home in Leicester. The lack of education, schooling and jobs for disadvantaged young people in Birisiri reflected the lives of many young people at Leicester YMCA. They are estranged from their families and rely on benefits from the government. These benefits are only given to those who are in education – many enrol in college solely to receive them and therefore they lack motivation in attending and finishing their courses. These external influences and experiences, like in Birisiri, are affecting their attitude towards education and ultimately, their future opportunities.

I wanted to positively impact the lives of young people back home by encouraging them back into education and training.

I decided to volunteer at Leicester YMCA and arranged interactive workshops and discussions to build trusted relationships and empower young people to believe in themselves and their futures, regardless of their past.

We focused on what caused them to think education was unimportant and how we could work to overcome these issues with the help of internal and external support from partnership professionals.

Detchema: "I wanted to positively impact the lives of young people back home by encouraging them back into education." Photo: Lizz Harrison/YCI

Detchema: “I wanted to positively impact the lives of young people back home by encouraging them back into education.”

I strongly believe that those in Birisiri, Bangladesh and other communities around the world would benefit from the same support. By educating disadvantaged young people on understanding their circumstances and how to overcome them, they are encouraged to build their futures and create new opportunities for themselves.

Through my Action at Home, I have given many young people a sense of empowerment and understanding to take control of their lives. I believe that no matter where you are in the world, we are all the same – facing similar issues within our communities. But there are also a lot of good people trying to have a positive impact on each other, and I am proud to be one of those people.

Are you a young person or a youth worker at a YMCA in the UK and Ireland? If you’re 18-25, apply today for the International Citizen Service today and you could volunteer for a YMCA in Africa, Asia or Latin America! You don’t need cash or qualifications, just the appetite to make a difference.

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Detchema and fellow ICS volunteer teach young people English in Birisiri, Bangladesh

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