As the train pulled into Wellingborough station I was filled with excitement. The long wait to meet my team and find out what our project would be in Zimbabwe was finally over! Walking towards the waiting room I turned to see another train pulling into the station and a group of people who I recognised from the Progressio assessment days stepped off the train. As we introduced ourselves we were thrown into the excited chatter about where we had travelled from and our expectations for the weekend ahead.
During the coach ride I was learning so much about the people I was travelling with. Everyone was so interesting and had come from all different walks of life, each with an engaging story to tell. Although we lived in different parts of the country and had different jobs and lifestyles, we were all coming together for the same common interest - the vision for poor people to be empowered to transform their lives. This common interest brought about a feeling of connectedness, one I believe will be sustained throughout our volunteering experience together.
As the weekend continued the enthusiasm that each person had brought with them was empowering. We undertook group discussions and activities helping us all deepen our understanding of what poverty means and how it impacts people’s lives. We talked about our own experiences of poverty, whether it had been seeing it first hand on another volunteering placement or understanding the poverty in the UK alone. Each person was listening closely to what each other had to say and a passion to make a change was very clear.
It was great to talk to everyone about their fundraising and the events that they had organised to raise money for their ICS placements as well as the generosity of family and friends showing their support for the programme. We spoke a lot about how we could continue to raise the money before the deadline, helping each other build on ideas and sharing which events we found successful and which had bought in less money than expected.
As the placement draws closer and closer the excitement we all feel is infectious! Each of us eager to be at the airport with our rucksacks and our language books ready to immerse ourselves in the colour and culture of Zimbabwe. I hope that we all are able to make an impact to people lives no matter how great or small and things that we experience will inspire us to continue to make a difference when we return home from our placement. After all, it’s the small things that each one of us does that will make a big difference to the world for the better.
By ICS returned volunteer Esther Denton, who went to Zimbabwe in April – July 2013. Esther wrote this blog after the pre-departure training.