A brief intro by Violeta Ruano, Desert Voicebox Project Manager
Beccy Allen is a long-term friend of Sandblast, and an even longer-term friend of the Saharawis. She has travelled to the occupied territories of Western Sahara to learn and inform about the situation there, has been a key part of numerous human rights campaigns in support of the Saharawi struggle, and been a few times to the Saharawi refugee camps, always involved with the community in diverse ways. In 2017, she decided to spend 6 months in the camps to teach English to the kids of our nascent project Desert Voicebox (Stave House in the Sahara back then), among other things, and she has remained in the hearts of all the projects' participants ever since (quite literally, since she has returned to run workshops and assessments a few times already!). Kind, high-spirited and proactive, Beccy is definitely one of our best ambassadors! Here she shares briefly her experience, but if you want to learn more about her journey you can always check her personal blog here. Happy reading (and please share)!
I'd wanted to volunteer abroad for a long time, but my interests and skills didn't seem to align to point me in an obvious direction. I started getting involved in Western Sahara solidarity and suddenly, I realised I'd inadvertently been preparing for volunteering with Desert Voicebox for a long time. My desire to be on the African continent; my interest to immerse myself in an Islamic culture; my Spanish speaking. Finally, it all made sense. And with the chance to take a one-year sabbatical from my job in the UK, I headed off for a six-month stay in the Saharawi Refugee Camps for an opportunity to put my project management and creative education experience to good use. I was welcomed into a family and a community and soon became part of things - taking my turn to do daily chores and earning my keep as well as building new family and friendship ties that will last a lifetime. The whole experience was a hugely challenging but ultimately rewarding one, which threw me out of my comfort zone and got me problem-solving and adapting like never before. I became a teacher, and the love the children showed me and seeing them flourish in English and music made each and every day a joy. Working alongside some brilliant Saharawi women who have learnt new skills through the programme and are applying them to help build the potential of the children in the camps left me humbled. I am proud to have played a small role in the development of Desert Voicebox. Providing creative education to the Saharawi children is imperative and inspiring in equal measure. With the help of more volunteers the programme can continue to go from strength to strength and enable more Saharawi children to thrive.
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