A Hartlepool volunteer spent Christmas 4,500 miles from home to support people living in poverty.
Jason Lund travelled to Nepal to work on a project tackling poverty.
As one of the world’s poorest countries, more than a quarter of Nepali people live on less than £1 a day and millions are still recovering from a series of devastating earthquakes in 2015.
Jason, 24, is part of a team of young British and Nepali volunteers working on a variety of development projects in rural areas.
Jason is a former member of street dance crew, Ruff Diamond, and competed with them at world championships and performed on BBC Children In Need.
He has put his life as a dance teacher on hold to travel to Nepal with international development organisation VSO as part of the UK government funded International Citizen Service (ICS) programme.
My host family are beautiful people and make me feel very welcomeJason Lund
Rather than celebrating Christmas with family and friends at home in Hartlepool, Jason spent the festive season working with schoolchildren and community groups.
He said: “I usually spend Christmas at home with my family, playing games and eating chocolate and lots of delicious food. It was kind of sad not to see my family, but the experience here keeps my mind off it.”
Instead Jason spent the day celebrating with his fellow volunteers.
Jason is living with a local family while in Nepal in order to fully immerse himself into the culture and to better understand the challenges faced by the local community.
He said: “The cultural differences can be challenging at times, and the language barrier is hard, but being able to meet new people with different outlooks on life is very rewarding.
“We are working with the community and local schools, trying to encourage equality and promote quality education.
“My host family are beautiful people and make me feel very welcome. Although communication is tough, we still manage to share a lot of laughter.
“I studied art at university and have been creating little arts and crafts pieces out of old cans, which my host mum then attempts to copy and the next day I’ll find she’s created the same thing.”
ICS volunteers spend three months in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, working on projects that focus on issues ranging from sexual health and youth participation in politics, to climate change and sustainable livelihoods.
Since 2012, ICS has sent more than 15,000 young people from the UK abroad, to volunteer alongside young volunteers from the country they’re in.
Young people don’t need cash or qualifications to take part, just the motivation and commitment to make a difference.
To find out more about ICS or to apply, visit www.volunteerics.org.