Concordia preparation weekend really put me at ease and dispelled any worries that I had. Particularly with me being a volunteer virgin, it also really helped in terms of making sure I thought of everything I needed to take – plastic bags for dirty washing are a great tip!
(Sam with the children of the School)
We were successful in all of our aims, although we would have liked to have finished the health centre but it just wasn’t meant to be. UPA do hope to finish it this year though, which I was pleased to hear. On one of the days, in order to raise AIDS awareness, we staged short dramas for the local community and encouraged discussion afterwards. It was very successful, with many community members attending and I think its success was largely due to the shear enthusiasm of some of the volunteers in handing out flyers and promoting the day in the local town.
All of the volunteers were so friendly, I had been expecting more international people but it didn’t make the slightest bit of difference, everyone got on brilliantly. We had lots of fun both working and relaxing, particularly in the evenings. Most nights we spent dancing around the campfire to the beat of the African drums or down in the town having some drinks and talking to the locals. One evening we had a cultural night where everyone had to present things to do with the culture of their country, in the form of dance, song or talk. It was a wonderful night and all of us from
We were also lucky enough to be invited by community members helping on the project to a ceremony taking place within the local community, an Introduction (an Engagement ceremony) and a Gift Circle (gifts are given to the people that invited you and many take place so that the gifts become shared around the community). It was a great privilege to experience the culture firsthand, something I think that no ordinary tourist to a country can actually do.
Probably my favourite part of the project was spending time with the children of the infants’ school. They were aged from around and were truly amazing. It was wonderful to see children that had not been corrupted by western society, they were so innocent. On a number of occasions they gave me some of their food, which after speaking to a few people I had decided would be ruder to refuse than accept. It humbled me greatly; they had nothing and yet were so willing to give - unbelievable. It was great fun playing with them and although there was a bit of a language barrier we tried to teach each other words. Naturally there were a few that were more confident than the others and spent more time with us, and those children really won my heart.
From start to finish the experience was amazing, even getting used to using a latrine was interesting to say the least. The combination of the worthwhile work, the culture, the fantastic people and the fantastic children has given me some magnificent memories. I am missing it all so much, but hopefully not for too long because I am planning on volunteering in
I wasn’t sure if I would, but I’ve caught the volunteering bug! Make sure you do too