Source: Northumberland Gazette
A north Northumberland woman has just returned from a life-changing voluntary placement in west Africa.

Laura Stafford, from Lesbury, recently came back from Ouagadougou, in Burkina Faso, where she spent 11 weeks working with disabled women through International Service.

Laura Stafford in Burkina Faso with  Madame Toe, the founder of Djigui Espoir.

The 25-year-old volunteered with the international development charity, which works in partnership with human-rights groups in West Africa, the Middle East and Latin America to empower the world’s most marginalised people through the International Citizen Service (ICS) scheme.

After 11 weeks overseas, Laura saw her work make a real difference to the local community.

“I was working with a group of disabled women called Djigui Espoir,” she said. “During the 11 weeks, we managed to open a lunchtime kiosk which supplied two to three women with full-time jobs, therefore helping to reduce extreme poverty among disabled women in Burkina Faso.”

On her return to the UK, Laura has been determined to continue the good work and has arranged a talk and fund-raising evening for Tuesday, July 1, at 7pm in Alnwick’s Pottergate Centre.

“I would urge other young people to take the opportunity to volunteer in developing countries,” she added.

“It’s been a life-changing experience that I’ll look back on for the rest of my life.

“I’ve met some amazing friends and I will continue to fundraise for Djigui Espoir in the future.

“I’d also like to thank everybody who helped me to fundraise for my trip and who has helped to make it happen.

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