An avid kick boxer swapped Hastings for Malawi when she spent two months working with HIV and AIDS sufferers in the south east African country.
Debbie Burns, 24, who has been a member of Hastings Kick boxing Academy (HKA) for four years, travelled to Malawi with a government-funded UK charity ICS Progressio, which offers 18-25 year olds a chance to volunteer overseas with International Citizen Service (ICS) to help empower people living in poverty to help themselves.
The 24-year-old worked with the Coalition of Women Living with HIV and AIDS (COWLHA) in the town of Nkhotakota to host support groups. And Debbie, who says she has gained so much from learning kick boxing, seized the opportunity to use what she had been taught by coach Carl Denne, of HKA, to empower those she was working with. She said: “When I started doing kick boxing it really boosted my confidence. It’s just so beneficial is so many way and they loved it, they responded so well and when they finished they were beaming. I thought it could help them feel more confident and really empower them. I held a competition and the group had a chance to win a new HKA kit donated by Carl, and Roncia Phiri, an eight-year-old girl from the village, beat not only the boys in the group but her teacher as well. She planked for three and half minutes and I can only do two and a half.”
The kick boxer says the experience was ‘inspiring’ and wants to encourage other young people to take advantage of the scheme which is due to end in 2015. For more information on how to volunteer with ICS Progressio visit www.progressio.org.uk/ics.