Redbridge pair travel the world and make a difference through International Citizen Service

Young people from Redbridge have been making a difference on dream trips around the world thanks to a pilot government scheme.

Shalina Vyas, 23, of Gants Hill, and Shahbaz Baloch, 21, of Ilford, were two of the first people to take part in the government’s International Citizen Service scheme which helps 18 to 22 year olds to volunteer in developing countries.

Ms Vyas returned from a ten-week stay in Peru in December, during which time she taught English to high-school students, while Mr Baloch, a former student at Beal High School, Woodford Bridge Road, visited Mali last summer.

Ms Vyas, who is now working part-time in retail, said: “It was amazing, I learned so much, I couldn’t speak any Spanish before but I learned enough to get by.

“I always wanted to travel and to see different parts of the world and to combine it with giving something back to the community.

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“It was a really good scheme.”

The scheme is run in conjunction with charities and applicants are means-tested so people with lower incomes can take part for free.

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Funding comes from the Department for International Development.

Ms Vyas raised around �500 before heading for Villa El Salvador, a town on the outskirts of central Lima.

She helped a charity called Progressio, also working with a community kitchen project and a milk programme for poor families.

Mr Baloch, who is now studying at Warwick University, worked with the International Service charity.

His highlights included befriending a man forced out of Liberia because of civil war who he taught to use a computer.

Mr Baloch said: “It was, without any exaggeration, a life changing experience which has opened many doors.”

Up to 1,080 young adults will take part in the scheme’s pilot year and final places are available in March and April.

Visit for details.

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