Willesden student to do voluntary charity work in Zimbabwe

Ned Lightowlers will be doing voluntary work in Zimbabwe

Ned Lightowlers will be doing voluntary work in Zimbabwe - Credit: Archant

Ned Lightowlers will take part in 10-week project before he returns to university

A first-year university student from Willesden who decided to switch courses after one semester will use the time before his next course begins to do voluntary work in Zimbabwe.

Ned Lightowlers, 18, who lives in Roundwood Road, was studying politics at Leeds University, but quickly realised it was not the course for him so enrolled to study International Development and French.

However, with one course finishing in December last year and the next not starting until September, he looked at doing something positive.

Travelling and working in Africa had appealed to Ned from an early age so he contacted the charity Progression International Citizens Service and on March 31 he will be going out to Zimbabwe for 10 weeks.

During his voluntary stint he will provide aid and support, in the form of education on HIV/AIDS, child abuse and gender equality.

Ned said: “I had originally thought about doing voluntary work in Mali, but that was before the fighting became so intense.

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“When I switched courses, I knew I wanted to travel. It would have been easy to just go backpacking, but doing volunteer work, I’m sure, will be more rewarding and broaden my knowledge of the world. You can read about these places in the papers or see them on the television, but nothing can beat experiencing it first-hand.

Zimbabwe has one of the highest rates of people living with HIV in the world according to statistics from UNICEF.

Ned said: “It is such a poor country that their government cannot do enough. And there are so many myths over there surrounding the disease. For example, some people believe that having sex with a virgin is a cure.

“One of our mains tasks is to educate the people, in particular the young people. And to tell them HIV is not a curse.”

Ned, who starts his training in a few weeks, will join eight other people in a team, all of whom will be given a specific role. And as well as focussing on education, they will help out on farms and local community projects.

He needs to raise £800 to make the trip, and money raised will pay for his flight, accommodation, vaccinations, as well as paying for additional volunteers from the local communities in Zimbabwe.

Ned added: “I know the task ahead is massive, and we alone cannot solve the problem... we are just a small piece of the puzzle, but we have to do what we can.”

If you wish to make donation visit mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/nedlightowlers1 or visit Ned’s facebook page www.facebook.com/#!/events/499496376775300/