by Bassmala Elbushary, BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science
There are numerous reasons why I wanted to volunteer. Firstly, I wanted to use my passion (helping others) to make a positive impact and explore where my passion can be useful. That’s why when I found out about the volunteering opportunity at FORWARD, I did not hesitate to get involved. FORWARD strives for African women’s rights and I was so keen to amplify the voices and challenges African women encounter. Furthermore, I wanted to get involved in change-making and have a positive influence on people’s lives. This could be from raising awareness to writing letters to MPs. Lastly, I wanted to meet people who have similar mindset and want to make a difference in this world.
How I got involved in volunteering
It was 2019 when I found out about FOWARD. My mother has a friend who knew the manager of the organisation and the organisation was promoting their volunteering opportunity. I was so keen to apply.
I got involved by completing an application form. It was open to all African women living in England and Wales. Then, I completed a three-days training in Cardiff. After completing the training, I became a youth fellow in the organisation.
During my training programme, I was asked to work as a group to find solutions to some of the issues African women face. At the end of the training, I was asked to create a social project.
For my social project, I decided to make a Facebook Live exploring the issues Sudanese women face and discussing solutions with them as a group. In the Facebook Live, I got my mother and my little sister to discuss their opinions regarding women’s rights. The Facebook Live was very successful as I had over 5000 views.
The second part of my social project was to hold a discussion group with the Sudanese women and men. I booked a venue, and I invited all the Sudanese women in my local area to discuss the issues Sudanese women face and I asked them to work in groups to come up with solutions. Then, I went to London and conducted a discussion group with the Sudanese men and how men can support the women and influence policy makers in Sudan.
I highly recommend volunteering to everyone because you gain plenty of experience and skills.
Primarily, my volunteering has helped the audiences that I gave my talk to about Sudanese women’s right and most of them agreed with the points I spoke about. The feedback from the discussion group were all positive. Some stated they ‘can make a difference’ in their lives. Others said they felt ‘empowered’. Secondly, some of the audience from the focus group asked me to conduct another focus group because they enjoyed it and found it very beneficial.
How volunteering has helped with my career goals
During my training, I developed my confidence to engage with wider audience and the support that I received from the organisers made me believe in myself. In my chosen career as an Biomedical Science Lecturer, I will need the confidence to perform presentations and focus groups.
I also learned teamwork and communication skills through the group work and the discussions I did. This links strongly with my chosen career because I will have to work in a team to conduct experiments/produce a research paper.
Most importantly, I learnt time management skills because I had a deadline to complete the social project by. Time management skills is highly favourable in my chosen career as all the work has a specific deadline.
Finally, I built a strong network which is very essential if I want to progress further. Having a strong network is vital for references and to gain advice from experts. As I became a youth member at the organisation, I am in the process of launching my own international project in Sudan developing the rural area. The organisation’s manager is supporting me to finalise my proposal for funding.