Reg Charity 1143560
Thought Piece

Change Driven from Within

By Amyus Bale
Successfully sending volunteers abroad for 10 years

As a charity, Agape Volunteers’ aid work is focussed on countries in Africa – Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania and South Africa – but we think it’s important to understand that many of the problems these countries face are global issues.

Conserving the environment, tackling epidemics, advocating for our human rights – these are challenges that need to be faced at an international level. Not just governments coming together, of course, but people coming together to find solutions both at home and abroad. This is what being an international volunteer is all about.

We believe that volunteers make a real difference. That volunteers on our HIV outreach programme in Kenya can play a real role in ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic, for example. We also believe that real change is driven from within – without committed Kenyan health workers and volunteers, this programme could not exist at all.

A great example of this occurred recently in Kajiado county, Kenya, where over 450 young Maasai girls and county leaders gathered to denounce female genital mutilation (FGM). FGM is practiced in countries all over the world - the NHS estimates that over 20,000 girls are at risk of FGM in the UK each year. It was declared a human rights violation by the United Nations in 2012.

Kenya’s national FGM rate is relatively low but remains high among certain communities, such as the Maasai, where it plays a role in traditional rites of passage for young women. The event in Kajiado, dubbed “Let Girls Be Women without the Cut”, celebrated an alternative rite of passage for Maasai girls.

These are global issues, not “African problems”, but African countries are leading the way in finding innovative solutions.

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