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Long Melford volunteer spends Christmas in India to work on project tackling poverty

PUBLISHED: 22:58 02 January 2018 | UPDATED: 22:59 02 January 2018

Olivia Ranoe-Hall with children in India. Picture: VSO

Olivia Ranoe-Hall with children in India. Picture: VSO

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A young woman from Long Melford gave up spending Christmas with her family this year as she travelled more than 4,500 miles to work on a project tackling poverty in India.

Olivia Ranoe-Hall is part of a team of young British and Indian volunteers working on a project on improving education and helping youngsters overcome gender inequality and caste discrimination in Rajasthan.

Olivia travelled to India with international development organisation VSO as part of the UK government funded International Citizen Service (ICS) programme.

The 21-year-old is living with a local family in India to fully immerse herself in the culture and to better understand the challenges faced by the local community.

Olivia said: “Living in our community in India is proving an incredible experience. I have a wonderful host family that looks after me so well and they really are like a second family.

“We have exchanged dance moves, phrases, clothes and music. They have also named their new-born baby buffalo after me.

“The experiences and learnings during this project are things you will not get from formal education. Immersing yourself fully into the culture, living with and learning from a host family, becoming part of the community, and becoming a friend as well as a facilitator for change really is an unmissable opportunity.”

ICS volunteers spend three months in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, working on projects that focus on issues ranging from sexual health and youth participation in politics, to climate change and sustainable livelihoods.

On return to the UK, Olivia and the other volunteers will complete an ‘Action at Home’ project, ensuring that their new skills also benefit their local communities.

Felicity Morgan, director of ICS at VSO, said: “Olivia has joined thousands of other ICS volunteers who are doing amazing work around the world, every day.

“We’re incredibly proud that UK aid is supporting young Brits bring about positive change in some of the world’s poorest communities.

“As an organisation working on the frontline against poverty, VSO see how people across Britain play an important role in delivering UK aid; from the NHS and army helping end the Ebola crisis, to the millions who donate and the contribution we all make through taxes, together we are all making the world a fairer, safer place.”

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