Late last night I arrived back home after a great weekend in Birmingham, where I spent three days training for my upcoming project in Zambia with 23 other ICS volunteers. Some were headed for South Africa, others for Sierra Leone and a small group of five of us bound for the landlocked state of Zambia.
It has only been two weeks since I was first accepted into the programme, a government-funded initiative run by six different charities that attempts to harness the power of young people to help eradicate world poverty, as well as to create globally minded UK citizens. I will be working with Restless Development, a charity aimed at teaching sexual and reproductive health and giving young people the tools to develop a stable livelihood, thus lifting themselves out of poverty.
I went in to the training weekend quite clueless about ICS, Restless Development, the training that we would receive, and even my role in the whole thing. I won’t pretend that I’m now completely clued in, but I’ve compiled a list of the facts as follows:
- I will be leaving around the 8th June
- I will be part of a group of around 20 people flying out
- We will all train together for a week in Kabwe before the in-country Restless Development staff divide us up into groups of one or two UK volunteers and send us to our various placement locations
- Roughly three weeks into my placement, I will return to Kabwe for a follow-up training session before returning to my community until the end of my stay
- Towards the end of August, we will all return to the UK together
- On British soil once again, our group of ~20 will attend a post-placement de-brief where we will discuss our placements and consider how to use our experiences to further help our chosen causes in the UK
- I will then have the crippling realities of my 4th year of university to face, and will most likely distract myself from work with daydreams of being back in Africa.
So there you have it: my itinerary, as it stands. Beyond that, I am very much venturing into the unknown. The closest I have ever come to setting foot on the African continent is a couple of weeks in the Middle East with my dear Papa and a quick jaunt in southern Spain with some friends. I know that I will be expected to drive my own project and make the greatest impact possible in the small community that I am assigned to, but as to what that entails I am completely in the dark. The best I can do is to go with the flow and take lots of sun cream.
Until my leaving date in June, I have all sorts of vaccinations and visas and fundraising to be getting on with. The idea of packing three months’ worth of clothes and provisions into a single 22kg load is a tad daunting, so I will of course be leaving that until the last minute. As long as Keith the ukulele makes it on to the plane, I’ll be happy.
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Until next time!