As I took the first step of joining International Citizen Service (ICS), my mind and heart was set on bringing positive changes within the society where I would be volunteering for almost three months.

My placement was Khalte, a small town in Sindhuli district where I was initially skeptical about being able to make much of an impact.

But I convinced myself that the experiences we gain through our decisions and actions matter the most. I focused entirely on the work and did my best to become a role model to young people in Khalte, and the experiences I’ve gained through ICS have been exceptional and everlasting.

ICS provided me countless opportunities to enhance my confidence, public speaking ability, and most importantly, my leadership capabilities. The school sessions we provided instilled confidence in me. The community events we organised enabled my public speaking capabilities to expand. The sports activities we carried out with young people helped me become a better leader and a role model.

All the work I did along with my fellow volunteers has taught me the importance of teamwork and diplomacy. I can now express my ideas well and think critically, which I could barely do before. . Furthermore, I’ve learned to step outside my comfort zone and give my best to the work do, no matter what the circumstances are.

Our work in Khalte actually brought lasting positive changes in the community.

During most of our placement days, we had seen only male youths playing volleyball at school and in the community. We came to learn that girls were quite interested to play, but the boys weren’t giving them a chance because they believed that they couldn’t play. I was upset with this situation and wanted to work with my fellow ICS volunteers to empower the girls too.

So, we decided to teach volleyball to interested girls within the community and allocated two days of the week as: ‘Only girls play volleyball in school day.’

The community responded positively and the students and now both boys and girls play volleyball in Khalte.

It was similar in the classes: the boys were more open and expressive in the sessions in initial days, but we approached the girls in classes with questions daily. As a result, they became more responsive and receptive towards the sessions we provided.

These small acts helped  challenge stigma  towards girls and empowered  young girls within Khalte.

I strongly think our actions have made the community itself more aware about false taboos associated with menstruation and sexual diseases, and other issues like child marriage.

Now, I see myself as a youth with endless positive energy to bring about positive change, as opposed to one with insecurities and inactiveness. With certainty, I have regarded a youth with dedication, hopes, aspirations and eccentricity to be a seed which will grow in time and make the future better. I have grown through all the circumstances that – I faced and all the decisions I took during ICS journey.

ICS isn’t an endpoint for me. It’s the start of my involvement in volunteering. Being a part of ICS and working for Restless Development has been a great platform to expand my horizons on what actions I can take to help others around me who aren’t as privileged in life.


Sayeja Aryal was an in-country volunteer with Restless Development Nepal in 2017.

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