Make a difference volunteering overseas in 2018

There's no better time than the start of a new year to help bring about positive change in the world. Find out why scores of young idealists are signing up to change people's lives for the better by volunteering abroad.

Make a difference volunteering overseas in 2018
Raleigh International volunteers in Nepal. Photo: Raleigh International

The New Year offers an opportunity to put last year behind us and look ahead to 2018 with renewed optimism and a fresh perspective on how to make the world a better place by making a difference in the lives of others.

And few places offer as many opportunities to bring about positive change as Nepal, the Himalayan country nestled between India and China in Southeast Asia, and home to a number of inspiring volunteer programmes run by UK-based NGO Raleigh International.

Learn more about volunteering with Raleigh International

Anish, 26, is one of the dozens of volunteers who spent several weeks living in the breath-taking mountains of Nepal as a Raleigh volunteer.

“I was super excited about the programme that Raleigh was about to run in Nepal and I wanted to be a part of it,” he says.

Nepal is among the poorest countries in the world with nearly a quarter of its population living below the poverty line. Inequality is a major challenge and Nepal is considered the fourth most climate vulnerable country in the world. In April 2015, the country suffered a devastating earthquake that took more than 8,000 lives and destroying 800,000 homes.

Due to the country’s high levels of inequality and poverty, poor and rural communities suffered most, with many losing the ability to provide even the most basic needs like food, water and shelter.

“After the earthquake I wanted to do something to help the people affected and thought this would be a good way to do so. I also wanted to build my confidence, communication and leadership skills,” says Anish.

Be a Raleigh International Volunteer in Nepal

“So, I applied for the role of Volunteer Manager with Raleigh. This is one of the best decisions I have ever taken in my life.”

Anyone inspired by Anish’s experience will be happy to learn that Raleigh is currently recruiting new volunteers for its programmes in Nepal in 2018.

Volunteers can choose to do an Expedition in Nepal this summer for five, seven, or ten weeks between July to September. Or there are places available on our autumn programmes departing between October to December. 

A Nepali village surrounded by highlands. Photo: Raleigh International

And Raleigh volunteers work with local communities in Nepal’s Gorkha and Makwanpur districts to help improve their lives in a number of meaningful ways, from building new earthquake-proof homes to helping provide clean water and sanitation.

As one of a very small number of volunteer organisations that have an agreement signed with the Nepali government, Raleigh volunteers and their families back home can be confident they have the government’s support and that every local community has requested the presence of volunteers.

Indeed, Raleigh International’s programmes are built on nearly four decades of experience arranging programmes to challenge and inspire young people by encouraging them to explore new parts of the globe. 

And Raleigh’s commitment to delivering results extends from the communities who are empowered to develop sustainably, to the young people who are inspired to take action.

Whether you are in North America, Europe, or elsewhere, as long as you are 17-24 years old (or 25-75 years old for Volunteer Manager roles), have a valid passport, and a passion to help others, a Raleigh expedition can be the opportunity that makes your 2018 an unforgettable year of creating lasting change.

For Anish, the training provided by Raleigh combined with the hands-on experience of helping rebuild basic infrastructure in a rural village developed his skills in ways he could never have envisioned before signing up.

Discover Nepal and yourself with Raleigh International

“At first I was not a confident person at all – I was a shy guy. But gradually those fears disappeared, and I did things like leading a team and doing a presentation in front of the group,” he recalls.

Anish led a team of volunteers and quickly learned how to help motivate and teach them – things he hadn’t done before. While he admits one of his initial motivations was strengthening his CV, Anish’s experience as a Raleigh volunteer in Nepal took his life in a new direction.

“The impact has been massive in my life. I want to be more involved in the community and I want to serve the people, help the people and make them smile by doing something positive,” he explains.

“I have grown into a different person since joining Raleigh. It has changed my life.”

So, if you want to change your life and the lives of others in 2018 – or know someone else who might be interested in being a Raleigh volunteer – share this article or click on the link below to learn more.

Raleigh runs Expeditions in Nepal, Tanzania and Nicaragua & Costa Rica throughout the year.


Apply to be a Raleigh International volunteer in Nepal

This article was produced by The Local and sponsored by Raleigh International


Is Germany set to lower the voting age to 16?

21, 18 and now 16? 50 years after the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18, several German political parties are pushing for a further decline to 16 years.

Is Germany set to lower the voting age to 16?
Archive photo shows a 16-year-old voting in Falkensee, Brandenburg, where she already qualifies to vote in state elections. Photo: DPA

“I’m convinced that 16-year-olds are comfortably in the position to vote responsibly,” Family and Youth Minister Franziska Giffey of the centre-left Social Democrats (SDP) told DPA. “We should give them the possibility.”

Giffey is also supported by chairpeople from the SPD chairwoman Saskia Esken, Green Party chairman Robert Habeck and Die Linke chairwoman Katja Kipping. 

The SPD is calling for the lowering of voting age to 16 years for all local, state, federal, and European elections, Esken told DPA. 

READ ALSO: Facts and figures about Germany as the country goes to the polls

“We must give young people the opportunity to participate and help shape the future.” 

Habeck of the Greens said: “We live in a time where the maturity of the young generation begins much earlier. It would be nice if the legislature could see that and follow suit.” 

Sixteen-year-olds are no less interested and informed than 18-year-olds, said Left leader Kipping. “It's high time to let young people aged 16 and over have a say.”

Too young to vote?

Markus Blume, Secretary General of the CSU, the conservative Bavarian-sister party of Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats, however, was sceptical. “It has proven to be a good idea to link voting rights and age of consent,” he told the DPA. 

Full criminal responsibility, possession of a driving licence and other rights and obligations were linked to turning 18. 

“This is also the right standard for the right to vote as the supreme right in a democracy,” said Blume.

“Young people today are more committed than they have been in a long time,” he added. “The climate movement has shown that political participation is possible in many ways without having to change the electoral law.

50 years ago, on July 31st 1970, an amendment to the Basic Law came into force that lowered the voting age for federal elections by three years. 

Since then, Article 38 has stated: “Whoever reaches the age of 18 is entitled to vote (…).”. This step was announced by SPD Chancellor Willy Brandt in the 1969 government declaration when he took office under the heading “Dare more democracy” (“Mehr Demokratie wagen”)

“Young people want to have a say, be involved and shape things themselves. That is good and stimulates the debates in our country”, said Giffey. “Their views on political and social developments must be taken seriously and taken into account.”

Young Friday for Future demonstrators in Frankfurt in 2019. Photo: DPA

Habeck said that the voting age of 16 should, if possible, already apply to the 2021 federal election, when Chancellor Angela Merkel is slated to step down from her position after 16 years.

This is already possible in many local and state elections, he pointed out.

“In this way many young people will be involved at an early stage in the democratic decision-making process,” said Habeck. “It's time to do the same at the federal level.”

Otherwise there is a risk of excluding important parts of society from the political decision-making processes that will determine their future, Esken said.

 “The questions of climate policy, overcoming the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, our family policy or even the future of our working world must be answered together with young people.

The youth wing of the FDP, the Young Liberals  now also want to take the next step: “It’s overdue that the voting age is reviewed and lowered to at least 16,” said chairwoman Ria Schröder to DPA. 

She criticised the “very great lack of generational equity in political decisions”, saying that “so far there has been no interest at all in politics in offering young people good deals, because they are simply not that relevant to the election decision.”

How could elections change if younger people could vote?

The election researcher Matthias Jung believes that younger people would participate in the decision-making process if they could.

“We can see that there is a kind of curiosity effect when people are allowed to vote for the first time, regardless of their age,” said the chairman of the Elections Research Group. 

“Twenty or 30 years ago we already had the effect that first-time voters were a bit more likely to vote.”

Take the Bundestag elections in 2017 as an example: here, the turnout in the 18 to 20-year-old group was 69.9 percent, whereas in the next age group (21 to 24 years) it was 67 percent. 

“This attractiveness effect would certainly be brought forward a little if the voting age were lowered to 16 years,” said Jung.

In the study “Voting at 16?” published on Thursday by the Otto Brenner Foundation, political scientists Thorsten Faas and Arndt Leininger of Freie Universität Berlin came to the conclusion that there is “little to argue against lowering the voting age”.

The authors have examined the 2019 elections for the eastern German states of Brandenburg, where 16- and 17- year olds could vote, and Saxony, where they couldn't yet.

Yet there was a catch. They found that, although a lower voting age makes it possible to bring young people into contact with politics at home or at school, it is mainly “in privileged domestic or school contexts”.

People must therefore be careful that lowering the voting age does not increase the social inequality of voter participation, the authors concluded.