A NEWTOWNABBEY youth worker has set off for Botswana to help support an HIV and AIDS project in the developing nation.
David McEvoy, from Mossley, left with the International Citizen Service - a scheme for 18 to 22-year-olds - on Wednesday, April 11.
The 19-year-old will spend the next three months in the southern Africa country volunteering with other young people on a project that supports people living with HIV and AIDS.
David, a former pupil at Ballyclare Secondary and an Engineering graduate will be working with Skillshare International to raise awareness of HIV and other issues that affect young people in Botswana.
The project forms part of the United Nations Millennium Goals, which set out a number of aims, such as ending poverty, hunger and promoting global partnership, to be achieved by 2015.
Prior to his departure David talked to the Times, and said: “I’m really excited. This is a great opportunity and could be a life-changing experience for me.
“I decided to volunteer for the project so I can work on real development projects that will make a genuine difference to the lives of some of the world’s poorest people.
“And I hope to develop new skills which will help in building my own future.
“We will be working with communities that have been hit with HIV and AIDS and will be encouraging people to use protection and get tested regularly. It’s about educating the people on the dangers of the disease.”
David has a long history with the New Mossley Youth Centre. He used to attend it as a member and is now a youth worker with the organisation. David also played for Mossley Hockey Club and is Vice Chair of Newtownabbey Youth Council.
David added: “I have always wanted to be a youth worker - I absolutely love it.
“Having grown up in Mossley and experienced what there is on offer for the children of the area, I really wanted to give something back to the community.
“I have always wanted to challenge myself. Life has at times been difficult for me but I am always prepared for whatever comes my way.”
International Citizen Service (ICS) is a new Government volunteering opportunity open to young adults from all walks of life to work in a developing country for between 10 to 12 weeks.
Andrew Mitchell from ICS said: “This is an important opportunity for young people not only to broaden their own horizons but also to have life-changing impact on others.
“Volunteers like David will learn first-hand about the challenges faced by very poor communities in developing countries, and how their lives can be improved.
“By making this contribution volunteers will show what a difference one person can make in the world. “I’m sure they will return from their experience full of enthusiasm for helping others, and with an understanding and appreciation of the results development can bring.”