In an online virtual exhibition and website, twenty year old Sophie Hickson showcases her experience of Fillipino culture, focusing on the core issues facing Fillipino communities today. Via an International Citizen Service (ICS) programme with the Department for International Development (DFID), Sophie was assigned to the Philippines for twelve weeks of volunteering in the developing areas of Hagony, Bulacan.
Since returning to the UK, Sophie has embarked on a project focusing on developing issues in communities, taking inspiration not only from her time in the Philippines but also in her home city of Cardiff.
As of May 25th, Sophie’s online virtual photography exhibition, Trash Talks, has been open to the public who are welcomed to send pictures of their own communities under the theme of ‘development.’ On the 12 July, Sophie will be conducting a presentation and question and answer session in Second Life to discuss the programme, exhibition and ideas of development within communities.
Trash Talks provides a case study of troubling issues present within communities such as teen pregnancy, health risks, waste and waste disposal. Sophie found that in the Philippines, without the necessary waste disposal systems, rubbish was simply thrown into the streets and rivers, creating a hazard for the wildlife and community, especially families with young children. During tidal flooding – a regular occurrence in the area – waste was swept into homes, increasing the risk of disease and causing considerable damage.
Sophie has set about searching for parallels in Cardiff, taking note of the waste issues in pockets of Cardiff such as Riverside and Canton, where recycling systems are not used effectively and students discover mice or rats in their home. Although not nearly on a par with the poverty level and devastation caused in the Philippines, Sophie wishes to look within her own community at issues that effect both the people and the environment, and discuss ways in which these issues can be resolved.
The primary aims of Sophie’s project are to raise awareness of the issues facing developing areas, to inspire individuals to look at their at their own community as well as areas abroad and encourage involvement in the development of these communities and hopes to make global links with this project, as a result of the influence the ICS programme.
Sophie says that the ICS programs are amazing opportunities for young people to experience other cultures, in addition to focusing on personal development abroad. These programmes are low expense and all work towards providing aid in developing areas. A thoroughly rewarding experience, Sophie found the Filipino people genuinely happy to meet visitors, always smiling and extremely hospitable, feeling welcomed in a way which differed hugely to the stiff upper lip British attitudes often found at home.
“I’m doing this social action project because I want to create something fluid and on-going”, says Sophie, “(I want) something that doesn’t end just because my time volunteering on this programme has finished. I want to engage other young people to think about development in their own communities, as well as giving them the space to compare and discuss these issues with other people across the globe”
To follow Sophie’s progress visit www.trashtalksa.webs.com