1 Feb 2015

The Power Of Travel :: Volunteering In Burkina Faso

You might have spotted my recent community post for Buzzfeed about Doncaster being pretty darn good. One of the main motivations for writing it was that I've met a lot of very inspiring people from Doncaster in the past year - real movers, shakers and makers who are out leading by example and making great things happen.

Charlotte is one of them. She's a very talented artist and in a few weeks she's heading to Burkina Faso in West Africa to volunteer via the ICS. She's currently fundraising for it, so I spoke to her about this approaching trip and also about her art.

1. How long have you been an artist and what do you enjoy most about it?

I've been artistic for as long as I can remember, from just leaving me alone in the living room with just  a pencil and paper, I'd be as good as gold, as my grandparents would say. The last year of school I started making more of my own art, mostly painting with water colours or acrylics. 

I have always been interested in nudes, in portraits and how I can combine different medias. I then went on to Doncaster College to study Fine art, where I was thrilled by choice of different art skills i could endure. I started getting more into screen printing, photography and life drawing. They were and still are, what I enjoy most about Fine art. 

2. What made you pick the ICS volunteer scheme as opposed to others?

I came across ICS volunteer scheme last year after just getting back from travelling, I was looking for jobs and also volunteer work. I was passionate about either becoming part of a project or making my own for next year to help me gain new skills, meet new people, discover new places and cultures. 

I heard certain stories of how people went with ICS through Restless Develepment, said it was the best experience of their life and how it's made them so much more confident as a person to take on challenges like that again throughout their life!

3. Have you been to Africa before?

No I haven't, I have always wanted to though. I've wanted to travel there on my own, just backpacking or maybe with friends who are from South Africa but only recently I thought why not make it worthwhile. 

It seems crazy how you can get carried away with just travelling and enjoy being care free but It definitely now makes me feel so much more, knowing that I can make my time worth while to make a difference

4. Tell us what you know about Burka Faso.

Burkina Faso is the in the west side of Africa, and is the second poorest country in the world.  Around 45% of their population live below the poverty level, on less than GBP 83p per day. More than 80% of the population relies on subsistence agriculture which is vulnerable to drought and poor soil. The life expectancy for men is shockingly, 55 years and for women, 57 years. Over all, rural people are moving to towns and cities to search for work. A knock-on effect of this rural to urban migration is the growth of unplanned slums which lack basic water and sanitation services. 

5. How long will you be out there and do you hope to travel more?

I will be working out their in Burkina Faso for 3 months. Working 5 days a week, and probably using almost all my time their contributing to the project as well as making relations with people I will be working along side and living with! I will definitely be travelling a lot more in my life time, just having a taste of places in Europe this past year has inspired me so much!

I can really relate to Charlotte's love for travel. It is the ultimate sense of freedom and it sparks a strong can-do attitude in people. Flung right out of your comfort zone, anything is possible. For me it also opened my eyes to the opportunity we all have to contribute to making the world a little bit better.

I think Charlotte is at the beginning of a very humbling, memorable and life-changing experience - it takes me right back to the start of my travelling when I was 22, I'm very excited for her and also a tad envious. 

To help Charlotte make a difference on her trip to Burkina Faso, I've donated to her JustGiving page.  You can send her a donation too here, or you can buy her artwork which she is selling to raise funds here.

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