The British Jesuits' programme for former students who go on volunteer placements overseas has been commended in the House of Commons. Gareth Thomas MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, was responding to a question raised by the Member of Parliament for Greenock and Inverclyde, David Cairns. One of Mr Cairns' constituents, Martin McCluskey, is presently working as a volunteer at a school in Ghana. The Scottish MP explained to the Commons that Martin "went to Ghana as part of his gap year in order to teach villagers in a very rural part of the country how to use the computers that they had had for some time, but had lacked the experience and training to make them work." Martin is a former student of St Aloysius College in Glasgow, and is one of nine volunteers who left Britain in January to work overseas under the auspices of the Young British Jesuit Alumni/ae (YBJA) programme. Other students are working in India, Tanzania, Ecuador and Guyana; their assignments overseas include working with street children, teaching, helping Indigenous peoples to maintain their traditional ways of life, as well as literacy and computer skills. David Cairns went on to ask the Minister what help the Government could give to voluntary schemes such as the one Martin is on, "and what direct assistance can the Minister's Department provide for training and knowledge-based skills (in developing countries)?" Mr Thomas responded by commending Martin McCluskey "for going out to Ghana to work and provide training for people in the village", adding: "The House owes a debt of gratitude to the many volunteers who go out from this country to developing countries, and to the work of organisations (which send them)". Speaking afterwards, David Cairns said: "I was very pleased that the Minister recognised the work that Martin is doing in Ghana. We have an obligation to help poorer countries and the Government needs to encourage more people to take part in these schemes, because not only does it help that country, but its also such a great experience for the individual." Source: Jesuit Communications Office
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