An international outlook
This autumn, biological sciences graduate, Melissa Hoban will be heading to Burkina Faso to work as a volunteer with disabled young adults; the next stage in a global adventure that began in Edinburgh.
Melissa joined Project Mongolia, a student run creative camp that works with children from deprived areas of Ulaanbaatar, whilst studying for her degree in biological sciences.
The first challenge took place 6000 miles from the project destination in central Asia, as Melissa and the other participating students undertook an ambitious fundraising campaign to raise the money for the trip.
The creativity and drive that would later teach Mongolian children how to write and produce their own short films, was applied to a host of fundraising activities including a week spent dressed as a tiger and an ambitious sponsored cycle to the Falkirk Wheel.
The students raised an impressive £8,000 but this, not unexpectedly, was just the beginning, as on arrival they were immediately faced with the challenge of equipping the camp despite limited local knowledge and no language skills.
Melissa calls the experience
the most important summer she has ever had, sparking a passion for community work and fundraising.
She now volunteers with the International Service, a charity that protects and promotes the rights of marginalised people in Latin America, West Africa, and the Middle East.
In Burkina Faso Melissa will be volunteering with mentally and physically disabled young adults and looking at ways to increase their independence and self sufficiency, whilst also promoting their human rights and status within the community.
Sharing the experience
Melissa will be recording and reflecting on the experience in a blog that will also serve as a promotional tool for the charity, encouraging others to volunteer their time, knowledge and expertise.
For the moment though it is all about the fundraising, with a Burkina Faso themed dinner party having already taken place and a sponsored cycle to Glasgow immanent.
When she returns to the UK, Melissa plans to use what she has learned to work with the local community, ideally inspiring other students to take part in projects beyond their studies.
There is so, so much to take away from time outside of the syllabus, and you never know where it may take you!”
To find out more about Burkina Faso and the projects that inspired Melissa to get involved, please visit the International Service website.