With the upcoming volunteering and work placement fair on 11 October, alumna Najma Hassan who spent ten weeks in Nicaragua talks about her life-changing role as a volunteer.

Hoping to satisfy her passion for traveling and to gain some hands-on experience that she could use towards her degree, Najma joined Raleigh International, a sustainable development organisation, as part of the International Citizen Service initiative and embarked on a once in a life time adventure.

Alongside other young people from the UK, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, Najma spent ten life-changing weeks in Nicaragua, where she participated in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programme in one of the country’s rural communities.

Speaking about the benefits of being a volunteer, Najma said: “This experience impacted me in several ways and since I hope to work in the NGO sector after university, this has allowed me to get my foot in the door. Not only has my confidence improved dramatically, I also gained new skills in leadership and conflict resolution. I am still volunteering with Raleigh International at their main office as an assessor, and it's providing me with a foundation from which to grow.”

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During her time in Nicaragua, Najma was involved in organising events and worked in conjunction with local agencies to improve sanitation and hygiene practices within local households and communities. She supported local social enterprises and helped to improve awareness of environmental sustainability practices. Her complete immersion in the local culture and lifestyle also allowed Najma to further her learning of Spanish, increasing her fluency in the language.

“While I had some previous volunteering experience, my ten weeks in Nicaragua brought my appreciation of volunteering to a whole new level. Spending three months in Central America and actually witnessing the positive changes happening right in front of me, was something I could never have imagined,” Najma said.

Acknowledging the big difference that volunteers make, Najma also said: “Volunteers are vital and play a massive role in the success of countless organisations. So whether you have volunteered, you are volunteering or will volunteer, you've done, are doing and will do great things.”

Students can find out about a wide range of volunteering opportunities, offered by various organisations, and meet the exhibitors at the upcoming Volunteering and Work Placement Fair at the Faculty of Science and Technology, which will take place on 11 October.

Click here for more information about the next Volunteering and Work Placement Fair.

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