Toms’s Experience (UK volunteer)
When I initially found out that I would be in a host home for the duration of my stay in Zimbabwe my reaction was not particularly positive. I had an irrational worry in the back of my mind that I would be living in the kind of accommodation that one might see in a Comic Relief appeal video. My only previous experience of staying in a host home was on a German language exchange while at school and even then it was only for a week and I had internet, a shower and a Burger King next door.
When I arrived at the house after meeting my host family in town I realised most of the problems that I had anticipated were not going to be an issue. The family home was admittedly down a dirt road however the house itself looked great. It was walled off and had a gate so clearly security was not going to be a problem. The interior of the house was a similar story. The entrance lead straight into a spacious living room in which ten or so people were sat watching television. At first I thought that this might prevent me from having any personal space for the next two months however my room was in one corner of the house at the end of the corridor.
A typical evening in my host home is quite similar to what I experience living at home in the UK. I’ll get back from the office between 6 and 8pm depending on what the other volunteers want to do after work. I try and spend around an hour an evening sitting with the family, talking about everyone’s day or just watching WWE. Other than that I just relax in my room and read a book or watch movies.
The food in my host home has been great so far. Every day starts with a cooked breakfast usually consisting of baked beans and fried egg. I’ve actually found more often than not, I’m having to adjust to the amount of food here not because there is too little, but rather that there is so much. Dinner has also been great as I’ve been able to try a range of authentic Zimbabwean dishes. I’m looking forward to showing my family a bit of English cuisine too, however I might find it difficult cooking for ten people!
Overall I have found the host homes to be a really positive experience. My host family have played a crucial role in my ICS journey so far and I hope to keep in contact with them long after I have returned to the UK.
Khaya’s Experience (Zimbabwean volunteer)
So far, my experience on living in a host home, has been quiet amazing as I am being exposed to a different lifestyle – a new way of life. Although it seems to be a bit different from my normal life, I am used to a similar situation, unlike the UK volunteer that I share with, Tom.
At first, when I went to stay there, I thought I was going to start a new life. I’d be living with new people and changing everything from how I used to live, but to my surprise I felt like I am in my actual home with my actual family and I am not experiencing much of a change. So far I haven’t had any issues, any crises or complaints.
The only thing that one can identify as an issue, is the language barrier as I speak Ndebele and English. Almost everyone in the house is a Shona speaker so it is often difficult trying to communicate especially with the young children as they cannot understand the English language that well. However, although it seems to be a barrier, I’ve learnt how to communicate in Shona and I have learnt some Shona terms that I didn’t know before, which one can identify as a great achievement. Initially I thought that only the UK volunteer would have the language problems!
Moreover, I’ve never stayed with an International in my whole life before, therefore its quite interesting living with someone of a different culture, learning new stuff and getting to know better how other people live elsewhere.
Written by Khaya and Tom