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Orpington teenager helps poverty-stricken women in Burkina Faso

PUBLISHED: 11:26 07 March 2017 | UPDATED: 11:26 07 March 2017

Maddy Furness, ICS volunteer addresses women at Kabeela

Maddy Furness, ICS volunteer addresses women at Kabeela

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The volunteer is working with a team of volunteers

ICS volunteer Maddy Furness from OrpingtonICS volunteer Maddy Furness from Orpington

A young volunteer from Orpington is helping women facing poverty and illness take control of their lives.

Maddy Furness travelled 4,000 miles from home to work with women and girls in Ziniaré, Burkina Faso.

Nearly 50 per cent of the west African country’s population live below the poverty line, and the average life expectancy for women is 60, more than 20 years below the UK.

The former Darrick Wood student said: “One of the things that struck me the most when I came to Guilongou was the large amount of young mothers.

“This is why we’ve found it vital to go to schools and deliver awareness raising sessions on sexual and reproductive health. We’ve now reached over 500 young adults at two different schools.

“Now that more young people know about contraception, young women can focus on pursuing a career and supporting themselves, rather than having to take care of a baby from a young age.

The 18-year-old, together with her team mates, have been working with rights-based development charity, Innertaionl Service together with Kabeela, which works to support women as they improve their literacy, financial independence and become more aware of their rights.

Maddy travelled to Burkina Faso through the International Citizen Service (ICS) programme, funded by UK aid.

Miss Furness added: “After finishing my A Levels, I knew that I wanted to help people whatever way I could. ICS has been a fantastic opportunity to do this, while experiencing an entirely new culture. Looking at women’s rights in Burkina Faso has given me a fresh point of view.

“It’s so important to consider social inequalities in developing countries, as well as in the UK. I can’t find sense in only ever fighting for justice in your own country, while never giving other places a second thought. ICS is a programme that every young person should consider.”

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