A Truro teenager who spent 12 weeks working on a project fighting poverty in Ghana, is now calling on other young people to take the plunge and consider volunteering overseas.

Mollie Austin, 19, travelled to Ghana in February with international development organisation VSO, as part of the UK government funded International Citizen Service (ICS) programme, where she worked alongside young volunteers from Ghana and the UK.

Mollie said: "One of the main problems in Kwasu, Ghana was the low literacy rate among the schools. This hinders future employment opportunities for much of the youth resulting in many of them just staying in the village and having low income jobs such as farming.

"Part of our project was carrying out reading clubs in the three schools in the community, which seemed to benefit the students and allowed them to have fun within the classroom as well which was lovely to see."

She lived with a local host family so that she was fully immersed into the community and could gain a better understanding of the challenges people there face.

ICS volunteers, aged 18-25, work on long-term projects that seek to end poverty in some of the poorest countries in the world. The scheme offers young people the chance to gain valuable new skills while working on projects that make a genuine difference to the people and communities they are supporting. Those aged 23-35 can apply to be ICS team leaders.

She added: "I had an incredible time in Ghana, it was an experience I will never forget. I have returned as a much more appreciative and open minded individual.

"I have decided to carry out multiple actions now that I am back in order to raise more awareness on the issues I witnessed, such as extreme poverty. I have several ideas in mind such as a food bank collection or holding a talk on the importance of volunteering in hope to encourage and inspire other individuals to get involved in the solutions!

Upon their return to the UK, all ICS volunteers undertake an ‘Action At Home’ project, ensuring that their new skills also benefit their local communities. More than 15,000 young people from the UK have participated on the programme since 2011.

ICS is funded by UK aid, so young people don’t need cash, qualifications or work experience to take part, just the desire to make a difference to the lives of some of the world’s poorest communities. Before she left for Ghana, Mollie raised £820 for VSO, which will ensure that communities in developing countries can continue to benefit from the work of volunteers.

Felicity Morgan, Director of ICS at VSO, said: “It’s really inspiring to hear about the fantastic work Mollie did on placement. We’re incredibly proud that UK aid is supporting young Brits to bring about positive change in some of the world’s poorest communities. As an organisation working on the frontline against poverty, VSO sees how people across Britain play an important role in delivering UK aid.

"From the NHS and Army helping end the Ebola crisis, to the millions who generously donate, and the contribution we all make through taxes, together we are all making the world a fairer, safer place.”

To find out more about ICS or to apply, visit www.volunteerics.org.