West Africa; as told by Kate from our ICS Team

YCI International Citizen Service volunteers are conducting research into what impact the ICS programme has had in Togo, Senegal and Liberia through a 10-week research project across seven different communities.

Since 2014 Y Care International has been working with YMCAs in Togo, Senegal and Liberia to support young people from the UK to volunteer overseas alongside in-country volunteers to make a difference to young people made vulnerable by poverty, inequality, and injustice.

Over 600 volunteers have contributed to projects in Liberia, Senegal and Togo across 7 different communities. 1000s of hours of activities have been completed from building tippy taps and raising awareness of hygiene practises in Togo, participating in reading schemes with young girls in Liberia, to setting up employment fairs for young people in Senegal. Over the next 3 months the volunteers will be investigating what impact these activities have had and what recommendations they have for the future of international volunteering projects.

The ICS volunteers will be using a range of tools and methodologies to complete their research and will be interviewing project partners, ICS alumni and young people who have benefited from the programme.

Since working on the ICS programme I have been inspired by the stories of the positive contribution and impact volunteers have made. On a visit to Togo I was lucky enough to visit one of Y Care International’s youth led development challenge projects. On this project ICS volunteers worked with a group of ex-detainees who were running a small business in their local market. These ex-detainees received training from ICS volunteers on how to organise their money and on how to set up other small income generating activities. One ex-detainee I met explained how ICS had supported the group to become more organised and that the training had resulted in the group being able to generate more income and ultimately save more. This is just one example of the many people I met on my trip to Togo who spoke about the positive impact ICS has had on them.

I am very much looking forward to hearing more of these stories and to following the progress of the ICS teams as they conduct their research into the impact of ICS. I am sure their research will reveal important lessons to be learnt for the future of international volunteering, but I have no doubt that there will also be lots of inspirational stories of the impact that ICS volunteers have had during and after their placements.

Please read our second blog at the end of February on the training delivered by YCI staff member Hayley to young people in Senegal, Togo and Liberia to prepare them to carry out this research.

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