Local Student to Lend a Hand in South Africa

Maybe it’s because they are nursing students. Maybe it’s because when these young women see an unmet need in the community, they meet it. Whatever it is that drives them, it is apparent that volunteering comes naturally for four students in the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth nursing program.

Madeleine Lee of Mattapoisett is one among a group of young women set to take their passion and experience in serving others to South Africa this spring as part of the Volunteer Eco Students Abroad (VESA) program. Established in 2009, VESA’s program brings together groups of young people from around the United States to work with local villagers in regions of the world where traditional charities and aid do not operate. Volunteers perform valuable hands-on work to improve infrastructure and sanitation in local communities, and work on conservation activities to help provide sustainable solutions to environmental issues.

“We chose South Africa for our service project because of the need in the communities of St. Lucia and Swaziland,” Lee explained. “In St. Lucia, we will build school buildings for children, a public kitchen and bathrooms, and teach basic hygiene to the children.”

One project they will be working on will have life changing results for the women and children of St. Lucia.

“The project I am most excited about is planting sustainable gardens so that women will be able to feed their families and create a renewable source of income for themselves.” Lee continued, “It’s exciting to know that we will be helping women create a produce business that will both feed their families and help them make some money, too.”

In Swaziland, the students will be working on wildlife conservation activities that will help protect crocodiles and cheetahs.

Madeleine and her group are funding their volunteer trip solely through donations. They have already raised a portion of the money needed through bake sales at local supermarkets and intend to raise the rest through a variety of different activities. First among them is providing the lunch and refreshments at the Super Saturday – Mattapoisett Antiques, Vendor, and Craft Fair on February 3 from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm at the Knights of Columbus Hall.

“We’ll have baked goods, lunch, and snacks available, as well as coffee,” said Lee. “We hope a lot of people will stop by to enjoy the fair, and pick up some goodies and lunch from us, too.”

For more information about the VESA trip, please contact Madeleine at mlee7@umassd.edu.

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