From Congo to Croydon to Cambodia – Tania’s Inspirational Journey

From Congo to Croydon to Cambodia – Tania’s Inspirational Journey

Expert opinion

Aspiring Midwife, 22 year old Tania Tuzizila from Croydon, will be the 20,000th young person to volunteer with the International Citizen Service (ICS) next week – an international development programme for 18 to 25 year olds, led by charity, VSO and funded by DFID. Tania is looking forward to her placement in Cambodia…

“It’s absolutely amazing that I’m the 20,000th volunteer! I will be based at the ‘Banteay Char Livelihoods Project’ in north-western Cambodia for nearly three months where they empower young people living in poverty and teach them new skills to improve their job prospects. I will be supporting the young people and helping to create opportunities for them which will hopefully give them a new start in life.

I want to do this because I see this ICS placement as an opportunity to ‘give back’. I’m really looking forward to seeing young people change before my eyes. I also want to change my perspective. Dreams get smaller as you get older, so knowing that I will leave an imprint on young people’s lives means a lot to me. I’ve always wanted to volunteer and enjoy helping others who are underprivileged or have had a challenging upbringing. Someone once helped my family and I would love to give back to those who need my help.

I had a difficult childhood myself. I was born in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. I fled my home at the age of three with my mum and five of my brothers and sisters in tow. Life wasn’t good there, so unsafe. It’s a really dangerous place for women who get raped all the time. To this day, my mum has never explained the scars all over her back. She went through a lot – she was lucky to get out. She was determined not to raise us there.

We arrived in the UK in 1996. My dad joined us a few months later. Life was hard – I didn’t spend a lot of time with my mum because she had to work all the time to make ends meet, so our dad looked after us. I grew up in a council house in Croydon surrounded by gangs. One boy at my school even died from a knife attack when I was twelve. My school consequently closed down and I missed out on school for a year. Eventually I enrolled into another, but I found it hard to concentrate in a new environment with new people.

I suffered racism, got in with the wrong crowd and skipped classes. I got into fights, got into trouble with the police and was on track to fail my GCSEs. My health suffered – I contracted TB and pneumonia. I nearly died in hospital on my eighteenth birthday. I was ill for a whole year. Fortunately I turned a corner and I decided to apply myself at school. I massively improved my grades and secured a place at university studying Health and Social Sciences.

ICS will help me grow as a person. I know this experience will change me for the better. I want to go on a new journey. When I get back, I would like to study Midwifery.

Read more about ICS here:

This expert opinion is tagged under:

  • Volunteering/trusteeship