An adventurous graduate is fundraising to travel to indigenous communities and build eco-latrines in Central America’s poorest country.

Sophie Owen, from Epsom, has recently graduated from Southampton University with a degree in Spanish and English Literature - which she wants to put to good use.

In October, the 22-year-old will travel to Nicaragua for 10 weeks with the International Citizen Service (ICS) to work for a charity named Progressio which aims to tackle overseas poverty and support international development.

ICS gives young people a chance to make a positive impact in some of the poorest areas of the world and the scheme is funded by the UK Government’s Department of International Development.

Miss Owen will be working in a team of UK and volunteers in Nicaragua contributing to environmental development projects.

She said: "I studied Spanish and want to put my skills into practice and I am really passionate about international development, about providing aid to those less fortunate than myself."

Before she sets off, the graduate needs to raise £800 which goes directly to ICS to ensure more young volunteers have the opportunity to complete its scheme.

Miss Owen added: "I hiked a half-marathon on Box Hill at the weekend in order to continue raising awareness and in a few weeks time I will be living below the poverty line by spending £5 no more no less on food for one week."

On returning to the UK, she will be involved in social action projects to highlight the challenges faced by Nicaraguans.

Nicaragua is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, behind Haiti. 

22 per cent of the population is illiterate and 21 per cent do not have access to a safe water source.

43 per cent live in rural areas and two out of three people struggle to survive on less than $1.25 a day.

Of the 5,500 homes in the Achuapa district, an area in which Progressio does a lot of its work, 2,000 have no electricity and 1,800 have no access to clean drinking water.

To donate to Miss Owen visit

For information about how to apply for ICS’ programme visit

For information about Progressio visit