A TIPTREE teenager travelled more than 6,000 miles to help support communities in Kenya.

Mason Hiatt, 19, spent 11 weeks volunteering in the African country.

He travelled to Kenya with international development organisation VSO, as part of the UK government funded International Citizen Service programme.

During his time there he worked alongside young volunteers from Kenya and others from the UK on a sustainable development project.

Mason also lived with a host family, so that he was fully immersed into the community.

“The challenges that we had to face as a group were that people with disabilities were not treated as part of the community,” he said.

“Our project was to help people with disabilities to access all their rights and help children with disabilities to access schools with teachers who are trained to help them.

“The way we overcame these challenges was by working with local government to spread awareness all across Nandi County which is located in the west of Kenya.”

Mason added: “I really enjoyed working with the team on my placement as we were able to work with a deaf school to help get the children tested and also help to teach some lessons to them about sexual health and business ideas.”

International Citizen Service allows young people aged 18 to 25 to contribute to sustainable development projects in Africa and Asia.

Mason is now using the skills he developed overseas to carry out an action at home project back in the UK.

He has also since joined the British Red Cross as a first responder.

Mason added: “I felt like I needed to be giving back the community around me.

“For me personally International Citizen Service really opened my eyes to the world and if I could re-do it then I definitely would.”

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