The volunteer we decided to produce a case study on is Delvia Martínez. This is because she stood out as a volunteer who has many different responsibilities to take care of and has learnt how to balance these in her day-to-day life. She is 25 years old and from the community of El Bramadero, Nicaragua. Delvia lives with her husband, who works in agriculture, harvesting maize and beans. Together they have two children, who are 4 and 8 years old. Whilst Delvia is volunteering, her eldest daughter goes to school Monday to Friday morning till noon, and her youngest daughter stays at home with her husband or goes to her mother’s house. Delvia says she has 'taken a break from my normal daily life of cleaning the house, washing clothes, looking after my farm animals and my fruit and vegetable plants to join ICS.' 

Before Delvia started her ICS placement, she found herself to have quite a shy and timid personality. Although she has a lot of opinions and ideas, especially with regards to how to improve her community, she sometimes found it difficult to portray them, essentially holding her back from doing what she loves. Delvia saw ICS as a vehicle for improving these skills. This was a fundamental reason why Delvia wanted to join ICS. Delvia also found the ICS placement a great opportunity to work on other skills, such as construction, climate change and recycling. This was so she could pass on her knowledge and teach people about how to recycle rubbish properly as this is a big problem in El Bramadero. Another key reason for her signing up was due to her love of the community, and wanting to help in anyway possible. She saw all the work past cycles have already contributed around El Bramadero, and heard a lot from past volunteers about what they had learnt from being part of ICS. These reasons were fundamental for her motivation to sign up. 

Being part of ICS, Delvia has learnt how to construct eco-stoves and water filters. She even mentioned that she would now definitely consider building a water filter in her family home, especially for her children. She has also learnt new computer skills and facts about health, including the prevention of dengue fever. 

Delvia has learnt how to communicate effectively, especially with the UK volunteers and has been able to establish good friendships with them. This has been a great success for her intrinsically, and she now feels very comfortable, especially with regards to expressing her opinion in groups, and her communicative skills in general have greatly improved. "It’s been great to have the opportunity to organise community events, improve my English, communication skills and relationships with the community."

The active participation from Delvia and the rest of the team in providing community events focused around climate change, gender equality and sexual health aided to Delvia’s overall character development through ICS. It was a focal point as not only did she learn a lot about the different aspects of climate change, how to recycle properly and develop her knowledge on alternative methods of disposing materials, such as plastic, without it being damaging to our environment, she had the opportunity to organise a sexual health workshop and speak about the topic in front of a large audience. Before joining ICS, Delvia would not have considered anything like this at all, an almost impossible task. She has been able to overcome her biggest personal challenge through volunteering with ICS.

Since joining ICS, Delvia’s view on her own life has changed. So far she has graduated from middle-high school, and since being involved with ICS, she has seen a great improvement in her organisation and time-keeping skills. Delvia has been able to prove to herself that it is possible for her to go back to high school and graduate. It has also made her think about future decisions, and she hopes that once her children are older, she can take some of the skills she has learnt from this placement and apply them to working with adults or join another programme similar to this one.

Delvia has found the whole experience a positive test on her patience and courage to stand up in front of audiences and work alongside a group of people from a completely different country and culture. Delvia has recognised within herself a new passion for improving life and personality skills since being on this placement, and she wants to continue learning more. 

"A significant change for me is that I now am comfortable to participate and speak in front of a group of people, I found this very difficult before. I feel very happy now because Progressio, the UK and national volunteers and ASOMUPRO have helped me a lot to get to where I am now. The whole placement has improved the way I speak, the way I behave and I feel I understand a lot more. I hope to help more people in the future. One way that ICS has benefitted me is my development in computer skills. It seems easier for me to apply for a job and I now feel I have the confidence to consider in the future a teaching career. I’ll never forget my experiences on my ICS placement for the rest of my life."

Written by ICS volunteer Catherine Partridge