On Friday 18 April, we flew from Heathrow and started our Zimbabwean adventure. We were all anxious about what lay ahead but were too excited to show it. We spent our first few days in Harare settling in and adjusting to the lifestyle. On Sunday we got to experience a slice of Zimbabwean culture when we were woken up by the churches three piece band. Having only had minimal church experience back home it was refreshing to see something that I would assume to be dull and boring to be full of life and passion. In the afternoon we spent our time with local children sharing different games that at times were unknown to us and unknown to them. It was not long however till we had to begin our orientation - days of constant information and further training to prepare us for the challenges that lay ahead. Fortunately we all got on with the national volunteers. Language was not a problem as their English was as good if not better than ours. Towards the end of the orientation we celebrated one of the national volunteer’s birthday in the true Zimbabwean style with cake and drink being thrown over him at every opportunity.

At the end of orientation all three groups parted their separate ways. With heavy hearts we said goodbye to team DOMCCP and team Restoration Of Hope and started the next leg of our journey.

After a long bumpy bus ride we reached Mutare. We were warmly welcomed by the team at Simukai and were later introduced to our host families. Feeling reassured after meeting who would be our new families for the next nine weeks we said goodbye to our team for the weekend and moved into our new homes. I think everyone had different expectations but I (Arran) can personally say I was pleasantly surprised by the welcome and the atmosphere of the home. Before getting to know my host parents I was worried that we wouldn’t get along, there would be a lot of awkwardness (due to the language barrier) and there would be lots of strict rules in place. In reality this was not the case. My host parents are some of the nicest, friendliest people I have met in Zimbabwe. They are really excited to show me their culture and equally excited to learn about mine.  I’m sharing my host home with Anna another UK ICS volunteer, together we have settled in really well and both feel the next eight weeks are going to be full of fun and laughter in our new home. 

Team Shumba preparing for an activity

I (Tomas) was really excited to meet my host family. Having moved out of my mum’s house a couple of years ago I was rather nervous about new constraints that might be placed on me but am happy to adjust. Being told mine and Dan’s curfew was 8pm was alarming but after seeing how dark it got and how quiet everything became I didn’t mind. Being a vegetarian my biggest fear of my whole experience in Zimbabwe was what the food was going to be like. My host mum has been really understanding about me being a vegetarian and although she admitted she didn’t know what being a vegetarian entailed she said she would give it try for the 10 weeks I was here. After trying some of the traditional cuisine of chicken neck and chicken foot I get the feeling my house mate Dan wishes he had said he was also vegetarian.

Simukai has such a homely feel to it. The entire team are really enthusiastic about the project with lots of new ideas flooding the workplace. I (Sympathy) having personally worked with Simukai briefly before am excited to be part of the ICS team as I feel we will be able to make more of an impact with their backing. I really appreciate the willingness of the UK volunteers in learning Shona and I am learning a lot from them too, especially about time management and hope the other national volunteers will do the same!

Team Shumba (Lion in Shona) are really excited to step forward with the plans and ideas that we have come up with together so far, and we feel in the next eight weeks we can really help contribute to the amazing work that is done at Simukai. 

(P.S. Our team leaders Controversy and Rory are the best!)

Written by ICS volunteers Arran, Sympathy and Tomas