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FUNDRAISING over £1,500 has allowed Eleanor Almond from Bratton to experience a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Malawi, to help improve the locals’ knowledge of sexual reproductive health.

Working with the international charity, Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), Eleanor was offered the opportunity to widen her understanding of different cultures before embarking on her degree in international studies at university.

She took part in the International Citizens Service project run by VSO comprising of three phases; fundraising, in-country and Action at Home. The in-country phase took her to Malawi for three months where she delivered sessions in schools and youth clubs with a team of UK and Malawian youth volunteers.

Eleanor told White Horse News, “Our sessions had the core goal of improving sexual reproductive health and rights knowledge amongst the youth, which included topics on: HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections, prevention of early marriage and pregnancy, consent, and human rights.  We had the privilege of having discussions on these topics with the community.

“A highlight of my experience was living both with a Malawian family and volunteer in a host home. My family made me feel welcomed as soon as I stepped through the door, treating me like one of their daughters, which included giving me my own chitenge (a traditional wrap skirt), checking I had the correct medication when I was ill and giving me personal Tumbuka lessons (a regional language of Malawi) in the kitchen as we cooked. Although, this does mean my vocabulary is somewhat limited to culinary scenarios!

“I was fortunate to live and integrate into a culture simultaneously worlds away from my own, and yet not so different after all. Often we look at the obvious differences in culture and forget our similarities: singing our favourite songs together, ringing each other when we’re late home and even yelling at the football on TV! Thank you to everyone who supported me, making this experience and project possible.”

Above: Eleanor with team posters translated into the local language on sexual health rights.