When I first started my English Language and Linguistics course here in Sheffield, I became involved with Enactus Sheffield, part of a global organisation that encourages students to work with academics and business people to set up and run businesses that tackle social issues through sustainable enterprise ventures.
Fast forward a year, and I was lucky enough to be part of a team that travelled to Nigeria and developed our HOPE Nigeria project over the Easter vacation. This new social enterprise helps victims of sex-trafficking in Nigeria to get their lives back on track, by employing them in a shea butter business. We also teach them the skills they need to make this into a successful, sustainable enterprise for themselves.
Naturally, I was feeling quite nervous about travelling to a continent for the very first time, apprehensive of the impending culture shock. My worries soon disappeared when we got hard at work setting up the business with the women, a lot of whom were far behind the poverty line and were in desperate need of a source of income.
It was one of the most humbling and fulfilling experiences to be able to teach the women how they could provide for themselves through basic enterprise skills. Leaving the village on the last day knowing we had made a real difference to the women and their families’ lives was a memory I will never forget.
We’ve already worked with ten women and empowered them to change their lives by developing their skills, and are now planning to expand the project to work with more victims of trafficking and to make the business fully sustainable so it can continue to grow expand its positive impact. To raise funds for this, three fellow linguists and I have volunteered to be gunged! We’ve put ourselves at the mercy of fellow students and the public who will donate to vote, and whichever of us has the most donations by Friday 26 April will be publicly slimed!
Find out more about the Gunge a Linguist campaign, and watch the students’ pleas for why they shouldn’t be the target of the gunge at www.allaboutlinguistics.com/gunge. And why not follow us on Twitter @gungealinguist, to find out the result and see pictures from the event?