AN INSPIRATIONAL Whitefield woman is to travel half a world away to help fight discrimination and poverty.

Lauren Lewis is jetting of the South Asian country of Nepal for a 11 week volunteering project next month.

There the 19-year-old will be hosted by a local family, ensuring she is fully immersed in the community, to help her better understand the challenges faced by women and people in poverty in the Himalayan republic.

Miss Lewis said: “Many women in villages from Nepal still face discrimination due to their gender.

“For instance, women may not be allowed to work so will be expected to leave school at an early age to find a husband. Or they will have to leave the house when they are menstruating as they will be seen as “dirty”.

Miss Lewis will be taking part in the project in a team of 18 to 25-year-olds as part of the International Citizen Service (ICS) programme, through development charity VSO.

The scheme offers young people chance to gain new skills and work on projects making a difference to people and communities around the globe.

Before departing for Nepal, Miss Lewis, who has previously taken part in similar projects in Ghana and India, has also raised £800 for VSO.

She said: “Volunteers on VSO work with the locals to achieve gender equality over time by running educational projects and teaching women different skills to give them dignified work.”

Once back in the UK, Miss Lewis will also undertake an Action At Home project utilising her new skills to support communities closer to home.

She added: “I am yet to complete my Action aA Home afterwards but will go back to complete my Youth Work and Community Development degree with the hope of going into an international development styled job, so this will be good experience.”

Miss Lewis is now calling on other young people to take the plunge and volunteer overseas.

The ICS programmes is funded by UK aid meaning young people do not need to pay to participate nor hold any qualifications or work experience.

She said: “I think it’s so important that young people get involved in projects like this. More than half the world’s population is under 25, so we’re the ones with the power to change things.”

Felicity Morgan, director of ICS at VSO, added: “It’s really inspiring to hear about the fantastic work Lauren did on placement. 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 through taxes, together we are all making the world a fairer, safer place.”

For more information or to apply to ICS visit