‘Volunteering’ What is it about?
Every person will have their own perception of what it means. Running workshops, stakeholder management, conversing with local authorities… this is the first step on a very serious career as a Development Worker for some. For all the meetings and authorizations, report writing and deadlines, the easiest role to forget and the most important duty we hold here is to be a servant to the community, in whatever capacity it may be.
50km from Binga, Ntengwe (our partner NGO) runs Bunsiwa Youth-Friendly Corner (YFC). The building was constructed a few months before our arrival. The previous Progressio ICS volunteers had assisted in the fresh paintwork adorning the walls - pink and orange, with beautiful murals of people in front of traditional mud and straw huts. Two rooms and a small yard under a single grass thatched roof. One task remains on the project: concreting the yard floor.
One part cement, twenty parts sand, twenty parts gravel. six well-worn shovels and one wheelbarrow not far from the scrapheap. We harvest the gravel from an old river deposit a few km east - prizing them individually out of the ground with our shovels; the sand from a streambed a few km west, and the water from a pool half a km North. No machines for mixing the stone, sand and cement here - we bend our backs and send our shovels ever closer to their end - the wood splinters and fragments and the steel handles bend under the strain. Each half-ton batch takes an hour to mix, and covers 2 or 3 square meters- perhaps a tenth - of the bare floor.
No glamour in this role; no gratification of another group of youths educated in HIV/Aids or substance abuse. When we are asked what we did on those days in Bunsiwa, those days we spent in the sun, shovel in hand, how many people can we say we helped develop and educate- Zero? No. In being a part of this structure, we build ourselves into a legacy.
We have 10 weeks here in Binga, Zimbabwe. That’s enough time to perhaps reach a thousand people with HIV/Aids information. Hopefully, we will be able to use this area for a workshop/presentation soon; but this building will be used long after we leave; seating more people than we could reach in the time we have now. The people in Bunsiwa now have somewhere to gather, somewhere to bring their own knowledge and skills together, along with development workers and volunteers. By sweating in the heat, we have helped create a long-term impact here, empowering the community by giving them a base from which to work.
By Progressio ICS volunteer Peter Jones
Photos 1 - 3: Volunteers working in Bunsiwa
Photo 4: All the volunteers and some Ntwenge staff on the last day of concreting.