AN Arran volunteer is helping people with disabilities – 4,000 miles from her home in Lochranza.
Natalie Innes is helping improve the lives of people with disabilities in Sandema (Upper East region, Ghana).
Natalie is talking about her experiences and encouraging other young Brits to get involved.
The former Arran High School pupil, has been working as part of a team of young British and Ghanaian volunteers on a project to promote inclusions for those with disabilities in mainstream education and society in general.
The World Health Organisation estimates that 15 per cent of the world’s population live with a disability. 80 per cent of those people live in developing countries.
In rural Ghana, many disabled people struggle to access basic healthcare, and are often excluded from education – a situation which leaves them more acutely affected by poverty, and less equipped to escape it.
Natalie and her team mates have been working with rights-based development charity International Service and its partner organisation CBR (Community Based Rehabilitation).
CBR works to break the cycle of poverty and empower people with disabilities to work with local leaders to create inclusive, accessible and healthy communities.
Natalie travelled to Ghana through the International Citizen Service (ICS) programme, funded by UK Aid.
She said: “The proudest moment for me was seeing the impact we’d had on young people. During youth clubs, students were able to state facts about mental health and use the correct terminology. We still have many battles ahead but we are ready to fight! Everyone deserves an equal place in society.”
“I applied for ICS because I wanted to experience a completely new culture and do something worthwhile for others. I was so pleased when I found out I would be working to help those with disabilities as I feel strongly about this inequality, and wanted to learn more. I believe those with disabilities aren’t given equal opportunities and I want to help fight for their rights.”