A man’s life changed after spending seven weeks volunteering in Zambia

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‘Change your life, help others and see the world – paid for by the government’ – Aylsham man’s plea to other young Norfolk residents

Toby Armiger, 21, of Sir Williams Close, Aylsham, said his experience in Zambia had radically altered his world view and given him important life and job skills for the future.

He is keen to spread the word about the International Citizen Service (ICS) so that others can help its projects, and expand their own horizons.

ICS, set up three-and-a-half years ago, had so far attracted more than 11,000 volunteers helping with projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

But only 67 volunteers had been from Norfolk, according to spokesman Lucy Jenkinson.

“We have struggled in East Anglia and it’s one of the areas where we would really like to ‘up’ recruitment and shout about our work,” she said.

Mr Armiger joined a group of 23 other young people, aged 18-25, working in schools, youth centres, clinics and community organisations providing vital information about sexual and reproductive health to young Zambians. The country has a high incidence of HIV/Aids.

He also helped with reading, writing and maths lessons, a children’s club, and football coaching.

“It’s given me a greater appreciation for what we have here,” he said. “Everyone developed a lot of presentation skills and confidence speaking to a group.

“It’s also given me a bigger interest in international development, fighting poverty and inequality issues. I’d definitely recommend other people to go for it. It’s a big challenge – very exciting and rewarding.”

Although his costs were funded by the government, Mr Armiger had to raise at least £800 for ICS projects before he went to Zambia.

And so he organised a sponsored 163km cycle ride, raising more than £1,200 for the cause. At the time Zambia was 163rd in the United Nations’ Human Development Index. The UK was ranked 14th.

Mr Armiger, a former Reepham High and Sixth Form College student, studied geography at King’s College, London.

■ For more information visit: www.volunteerics.org

■ Are you involved in an unusual volunteering project? Contact [email protected]

Pictrue: MARK BULLIMORE

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