Getting up to milk cows at 6.30am was just one of the experiences Michael Duckworth actually misses after spending the past three months on a farm in Kenya.
The 22-year-old, who lives in Wharf Street, Warwick, volunteered for the little-known International Citizen Service, a Government-funded scheme for young people keen to make a difference by helping to fight poverty in communities overseas and in Britain.
Michael was asked to personally raise just ten per cent towards the cost of sending him to the market town of Nanyuki, three hours north of Nairobi, where he lived with a family of farmers and was expected to do chores.
That’s how he found himself milking cows in the bitterly cold early morning, before daytime temperature switched to sweltering.
Michael said: “There were 12 of us aged between 18 and 25 on the ICS scheme to Kenya where we were paired up with the same number of young Kenyan volunteers.
“Each pair was assigned a placement. Some worked in health care, others in education or with children living on the strets.
“My Kenyan partner and I were assigned to work in the offices of an agri-business consultancy. From there we could see first hand the struggles local farmers were having in a place were poverty is entirely visible.
“Local people were used to growing food for their families but in some cases they would sell all the milk from their cows and then buy their children a bottle of Coca-Cola.
“I was helping to write business proposals and funding bids and doing some marketing.
It’s work Michael, a former pupil of Warwick School and Warwickshire College, is keen to continue in some form - perhaps by setting up a local ethical trading co-operative with like-minded people, or getting involved in the local Fair Trade movement.
He’s also became a vegetarian after better appreciating just how much grain is grown to feed cattle in the Western world - although in Africa he did sit down to the occasional meal of goat’s intestines. But avocado pears - a luxury in Britain - also featured heavily in his African diet.
Michael works as a waiter and is considering a career in the food business. Others interested in ethical trading can email him on firstname.lastname@example.org or to find out more about volunteering with ICS visit www.volunterics.org