I AM in Zambia for 12 weeks working on a youth development project which is funded by the British Government.
I arrived with 11 UK volunteers and met 12 Zambians over here, and we work in clinics under the Ministry of Health.
Zambia has a population of 14 million with their life expectancy averaging 43 years — one of the lowest in the world, but 13.5 per cent of people live with HIV, which is one of the highest rates in the world.
It’s not exactly how the tourist board would portray Zambia, but they might say it's one of the most peaceful countries in the world, with no record of warfare having ever taken place on Zambian soil.
When I first received the news that I was to work in Zambia for 12 weeks, I was more than disappointed. For a start, where was this place?
I was also chosen to work for the health sector, and as a slightly unhealthy female with an overwhelming fear of disease, I was terrified.
Before going to university last year, I had never left Maltby and it’s safe to say that I left my comfort zone there too.
I work with VSO ICS (Voluntary Service Overseas/International Citizenship Service) in a clinic specialising in male circumcision and maternal health in Choma, the provincial capital of southern Zambia.
My role is to talk to young people about issues such as HIV and gender equality.
To do this I deliver workshops in schools and work with the Youth Friendly Corner, a discussion group within the clinic.
After two months, I’ve successfully introduced a once weekly drop-in clinic within local schools where pupils can access free counselling, HIV and pregnancy testing.
Back at home I study French and Italian at Warwick University and will begin my year abroad in Bologna, Italy, studying Arabic and Russian — two days after I get home.
For a long term plan, I aim to do my degree, travel the world and write about it.
I’d like to work in travel journalism, but that’s quite a way off just yet.
For now I'm just hoping to bagpack around Asia next year, learn a bit of photography and do a few years of freelance travel writing.
To keep track of my travels and communicate with everyone back at home, I’ve started a blog.
As I make more and more plans to travel around the world and educate everyone about Yorkshire, the blog is a great way of putting Rotherham on the world map.
Before Zambia I was an ordinary university student but I’ve been given an extraordinary opportunity to change the world.
It’s an experience I’ll never forget.
You can check out Megan’s blog at www.meganstacey.wordpress.com.
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