A YOUNG volunteer from Lower Earley is speaking out from Tanzania, where he has been working on a project to help lift some of the world’s poorest people out of poverty.

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Neil Shabong, 21, travelled to Tanzania in October with international development organisation VSO, as part of the UK government funded International Citizen Service (ICS) programme.

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Neil is seven weeks into his 10 week placement, where he is volunteering alongside young people from Tanzania and the UK.

ICS volunteers work in some of the poorest communities across Africa and Asia on issues like sexual health, education, women’s rights and economic empowerment – tackling poverty and creating positive, lasting change.

Neil said: "When it comes to their livelihoods, young people in Tanzania are ambitious, entrepreneurial and strive to educate and train themselves.

"They work hard to improve living standards and emerge from poverty.

"However, the jobs market is extremely competitive many young people lack employability skills.

"In addition, the tough business environment means there is insufficient support for those who want to start their own businesses. "Overall, this means youth unemployment is a major challenge in Tanzania."

Neil is living with a local host family to fully immerse himself into the community and gain a better understanding of the challenges people there face.

He added: "Coming to Tanzania has reminded me of how important international development is to solve these issues.

"It is powerful because it combines financial support of policymakers and NGOs from the top with the support of ordinary people, who to devote their time and effort to volunteer.

"Together, it means that local and international partners can direct money and effort in a sustainable, logical way.

"The ICS programme is a great way to see this in action as a young person, and I encourage them all to apply!"

Before he left for Tanzania, Neil raised £806 for VSO, which will ensure that communities in developing countries continue to benefit from the work of volunteers.

Felicity Morgan, Director of ICS at VSO, said: "ICS volunteers like Neil are doing amazing work around the world, every day.

"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 t

through taxes, together we are all making the world a fairer, safer place."