Cheddar man, 22, tells of eye-opening experience in Cambodia fighting poverty

PUBLISHED: 12:00 04 August 2019

Oscar Smith with some of the volunteers and students.

Oscar Smith with some of the volunteers and students.

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A 22-year-old Cheddar man is encouraging more young people to take the plunge and consider volunteering overseas.

Oscar Smith with some of the volunteers and students.Oscar Smith with some of the volunteers and students.

Oscar Smith travelled to Cambodia in February with international development organisation VSO, as part of the UK Government-funded International Citizen Service programme (ICS).

He lived with a host family so he was fully immersed into the community and could gain a better understanding of the challenges they faced.

Oscar worked on a project to fight poverty in Cambodia over his 10-week visit.

Oscar said: "Lots of young people in rural areas of Cambodia drop out of school at an early age, therefore their chances of attaining safe and decent employment opportunities is severely low.

Oscar Smith with some of the volunteers and students.Oscar Smith with some of the volunteers and students.

"Our project aimed to help set up youth groups in vulnerable communities with the aim of educating youths about decent and safe employment.

"As the first cycle of volunteers, we had to the lay the ground work for future cycles and we had to conduct research into the target communities.

"We also had to raise awareness of our project and trying to gain some interest from members of the communities.

"I had an incredible time in Cambodia, and I really felt our project was making a difference in the community.

"I really loved living with a host family and enjoyed the way of life in the small, rural village.

"I felt connected to my host father, mother and grandmother even though we could not understand each other.

"I feel our biggest achievement was gaining the trust of our fellow community members, this laid the foundations for future successful ICS projects in the community. "

ICS volunteers, aged 18-25, work on long-term projects which 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 which make a genuine difference to the people and communities they support.

Oscar added: "I'd encourage other young people to think about applying for ICS, I had an amazing three months in a completely new culture and environment, if I can do it so can anyone else."

To find out more about ICS, log on to www.volunteerics.org

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