Islanders reveal how Jersey Overseas Aid changed their lives

An event has taken place to celebrate 50 years since Jersey Overseas Aid started sending volunteers abroad. The charity is the island's official relief agency and has completed more than 100 community projects all over the world. Volunteer Nicky Bailhache said: "I ended up giving up my job in Jersey as a GP and going to Ecuador for nine years to help out there.

"I think you begin to see the world in a bigger perspective and how can you help and there seemed to be a specific need that I could help fill."

Nicky Bailhache gave up her job as a doctor to help those in desperate need abroad. Credit: ITV Channel TV

Over 100 people attended a birthday celebration for the volunteering programme at The Pomme D'Or in St Helier on Thursday (28 April). Among the guests were Jersey's External Relations Minister, Senator Ian Gorst, and Minister for International Development, Deputy Carolyn Labey. Deputy Labey said: "It says an incredible amount about the people of Jersey that so many Islanders are willing to give their time and their skills. I am immensely proud of those who volunteer for the programme. "We also want to make sure that our programme continues to deliver lasting benefits for both the communities in which projects are undertaken and for our volunteers."

More than 100 people attended the birthday event at Pomme D'or in St Helier. Credit: ITV Channel TV

Baz Le Seelleur, who has volunteered with the charity, said: "You learn to appreciate things and actually bucket showers and eating your dinner by candlelight becomes quite a normal thing to do.

"When you come home and run a bath, you think 'I really don't need this, it's not necessary." Skills Jersey has been helping to link islanders who would never usually consider volunteering, with the organisation.

The Jersey organisation sends volunteers all over the world. Credit: Fredrik Lerneryd Gothenburg

Natalie Strecker, who mentors islanders with Skills Jersey, said: "There was a young man who I was mentoring and he undertook a project with Jersey Overseas Aid on the back of conversations we had.

"We saw this huge transformation from being somebody who really couldn't make eye contact and struggled with social skills to delivering a talk at one of our graduations so it was an incredible experience."