Leah 22, Cardiff

I started volunteering with SAFE through a funded programme for young people who were going through challenges. I had no idea what to expect as I hadn't done anything like this before. 

I knew I wanted to go overseas and do something worthwhile - but I guess I had never had the confidence to do it.

I went along to an information session in Cardiff and met some of the team at SAFE. I remember thinking what a cool charity it was - everyone was really friendly and filled us all with energy. They made it seem realistic for me.

I got onto the project and had to do six weeks of training which was important. We learned the things that we would be doing in India but we also learned things that I hadn't known before. Things like how to volunteer the right way (I didn't know there was a wrong way!) and what to do if you see upsetting things. 

I went with a team of 10 people so we also did some group work to make sure we worked well as a team. We spent a weekend in a bunk house in West Wales before we went too so we could get use to how everyone lived. This ended up being so useful - we all knew before we got to India who was going to be the loudest snorer and who had the smelliest socks. 

Nothing could have prepared me for India. It totally opened up my mind to how people lived around the world - it made me so sad but so happy at the same time. To see kids playing and smiling even though they were living in poverty really put things into perspective for me. I was proud to be able to help but I also could see how it needs to be done in the right way. 

SAFE supported us the whole journey and I felt safe and secure the whole way. I felt that when I had my stresses moments nobody judged me. 

When I came home it really ignited something. I got back into college to do youth and community work and I stayed volunteering at SAFE. The team helped me use the things I learned in India to be useful when I came home and I found that I could work really well designing workshops for young people. 

Through this journey I was able to go back to India as a project leader where I consulted the community about their knowledge on Environmental Sustainability and also scope out potential areas for bore wells to enable everyone to have safe drinking water. 

I now have a job working with vulnerable women in supported housing - which I love and I feel I am using the people and communication skills I learned with SAFE but also Im more of an understanding person in this role because of the people I have worked with around the world 

I will always be a part of the SAFE family and I will always be grateful for the opportunity I have had to help others, meet new friends and develop my own skills. 

Thanks SAFE! Love Leah x