How often does one get a second chance at an amazing opportunity?  Frequently? Sometimes?  Almost never?  Well I’m one of the few lucky people to get another go on the ICS journey, however this time as a group leader.

Going back to Zimbabwe, after 2 weeks of suffering with reverse culture shock and the British weather was exciting!  I could carry on with the projects that were initiated with the previous group, as well as discover new areas to explore with the new group.  Soon after landing, it finally dawned on me that I was going to be responsible for a group of young volunteers.  It was a daunting thought, especially when I considered that all of my international volunteers were girls.  There are no showers, only buckets, and chocolate isn’t always available!  I also hoped that they could manage with spiders and other creepy crawlies (only one of them can).  My fears were swept away during orientation week, when I realised that my girls were motivated and ready to work.  It was also a great relief being reunited with the DOMCCP (Diocese of Mutare Community Care Programme) national counterparts, as I wasn’t prepared to say goodbye last time.

Time is a relative concept here in Africa.  Everyone and everything moves much slower when compared to the London pace.  For me however, time has moved too quickly.  Already it’s been 6 weeks at Regina Coeli Mission.  But in that short time Team Regina (ICS/DOMCCP volunteers) has achieved so much. We have established awareness programmes in 5 schools, facilitated workshops for support group members, helped form 2 youth groups and have almost completed the rehabilitation of the Early Childhood Development Centre (Regina Coeli Crèche). 

This week the team spent some time assisting and learning from Regina Coeli Mission Hospital.  The entire mission has welcomed the team and has helped us whenever we needed it, so it was only right to return the favour.  Many of us have an interest in medicine and healthcare, so we shadowed the staff of the various departments, including the maternity and outpatients.  We also managed to see a Caesarean section being performed, which was the highlight of the experience; even though none of the male team members could handle the situation.  Only now I can understand the term; the miracle of childbirth!

With one more week of placement left at Regina, we are busy making our final preparations for National Tree Planting Day on the 1st December, which coincidentally is World AIDS Day.  On this day we intend to plant fruit trees in Ward 13 (The diocese divides their catchment area into regions called wards) for DOMCCP support group members, thereby creating a nutritional orchard. DOMCCP has many intervention programmes for support group members; in Regina most groups have nutritional gardens growing common vegetables. By adding fruit, we hope to increase the nutrition for the support group (a balanced diet is important for the immune system, especially for people living with HIV, as well as add more variety to the diet.

I have truly enjoyed my time so far, although it is now the beginning of the rainy season (a reminder that I’m going home soon).  I just have one question - Do you believe in third chances?  I’m not ready to say goodbye again.

By:Yvonne Muigua, UK team leader, in her team's last week in placement. DOMCCP is the team's partner organisation, Diocese of Mutare Community Care Programme.

Photo: Team Regina, Yvonne is the 2nd in on the left.