I went to Zambia with Restless Development in July 2011, as part of the first group of ICS volunteers sent to the area. Our project was focused around building a community resource centre in a local village, and carrying out training sessions for the residents. As we were the first community volunteers the village had seen, our first task was to spend time introducing ourselves to the locals, and making them familiar with our work. We set up an initial meeting and training session for around 40 young people from the village, and managed to recruit 20 who were interested in helping out with the project. After successfully recruiting volunteers, we then had to source the ground, which had previously been church owned, and next spent a month digging and building. During this time we also held a number of finance training sessions, which had been one of our main starting aims for the project. Our final task, after 3 months of coordinating the project, was to arrange a handover session so that building could continue. We created a handover team of 6 who were to take charge of the project, and ensured that the process would run smoothly throughout. One of my proudest achievements from my placement was recruiting Michael Mandanda, a local important youth figure, onto the changeover team. Most similar projects in the area had always been handed over to senior villagers, so it was a fantastic achievement to instead be able to pass it over to young people from the village. One of the hardest challenges I faced during my time was handing the project over, and realizing just how many capable people there were who could take over my role. Leaving the project, after having worked on it for such a long period of time, was something I hadn’t envisaged being so hard. However, it was a truly rewarding experience, and really allowed me to experience first hand the local issues villages face in Zambia and similar areas.
I am still very much involved with Restless Development, and many of the Alumni Network initiatives appeal to me. I am a member of the Restless Development LinkedIn group, which provides fantastic professional development support, and gives me the opportunity to connect to many others across the sector. I will also be attending future Open House events, and hope to meet many fellow volunteers who now work in international development.
I currently work for the Prince’s Trust, an organization I had been involved with before my Restless Development placement. I am a Deputy Team Leader for fifteen 16-25 year old young people based in London. My role mainly entails supporting them in finding meaningful employment, alongside working on community projects. I am currently training to become a Team Leader, and will move onto this role in a few months. In the future, I would love to be placed abroad again, perhaps with one of the international development organisations I have already been involved with. I know I want to continue building my career within this sector.
Frank says: “My community work in Zambia has given me directly applicable experience for my later career, and has been invaluable in my professional development”