A young Dartford woman, who spent three months volunteering on an international development project in Nicaragua, is the overall winner in an international photography competition.

Amy Smith - MariaAmy Smith’s photo was chosen from over 300 entries globally, in a competition to capture the impact and experiences of volunteers around the world on the UK government funded International Citizen Service (ICS) programme. Her entry won Best Overall Image. It depicts a portrait of a Nicaraguan woman, Maria Fulgencio at her home in San José de Paiwas, Nicaragua.

Amy Smith, 26, took the photo whilst volunteering in Nicaragua from January to March 2017 with international development organisation Raleigh. She worked with young local volunteers on a project ensuring that people in the community had access to decent toilet and water facilities, which can hugely reduce sickness and diarrhoea.

Amy said: “Maria suffers from severe arthritis and struggles to get around. My team supported Maria and her husband by improving the local environment around their home, clearing debris and constructing a path. We also worked in the local community to build eco latrines and raise awareness of hygiene and sanitation, which we did by leading educational sessions in schools and also working with community health promoters to talk about these topics during house to house visits.”

The winning photos will be displayed at Pop Brixton, a community business and events space in London, from 20th November until 2nd December. The exhibition is sponsored by Wanderlust magazine and City Academy, and entry is free.

Since 2012, ICS has sent more than 15,000 young people from the UK to volunteer on projects abroad, 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.

Felicity Morgan, Director of ICS at VSO, said: “These photos invite you into the world of ICS volunteers. Volunteering overseas isn’t just about travelling and experiencing new cultures, it’s about making a real difference to the community you’re in. By working on properly planned, long-term projects and living with local families, our volunteers are able to immerse themselves in a new way of living, as well as making a difference.”

To find out more about ICS or to apply, visit www.volunteerics.org.