On Sunday, the world will celebrate International Day of the Families. We wanted to commemorate this by talking a bit about our host families - an integral and exciting part of the ICS experience. For anyone hoping to head overseas on placement, we hope this will help with expectations and settle any apprehensions you might have. Let’s look at Cycle 4’s three different host homes from three different perspectives…

A volunteer’s point of view…

I think it would be fair to say that one of the most challenging aspects about ICS volunteering, from a UK volunteer’s point of view, is the fact that we would be staying for the whole three months with a host family in their own home. Although I personally didn’t have many expectations or fears as such, there were definitely some others who were apprehensive, not only about being away from home for twelve weeks but also becoming a member of another family in a completely new culture.

When Marek and I finally arrived in Mutare after five days of orientation in Harare, it would be an understatement to say that we were surprised and overwhelmed somewhat by the reality of this host home part of our volunteering. Our new mum, who was living on her own at the time was, and is even more so now, incredibly generous, loving, and welcoming. She previously had hosted Cycle Two volunteers so knew vaguely what to expect, but having heard that she had specifically requested male volunteers, Marek and I undoubtedly felt a bit of pressure.

As for our expectations, however, these were blown away completely the minute we actually arrived at the Tasvika house. During orientation, unsurprisingly, there was a lot of chat flying about amongst the UK volunteers about what kinds of host home they were hoping for. Some wanted a working shower and decent electricity, others were already resigned to the fact that they would be living with squat toilets and bucket showers. As for Marek and I, although we were pretty prepared for anything, we were convinced that we would be sharing a room.

So you can imagine our surprise when we got home and saw that we would not only have our own rooms (with double beds) but would also have two proper toilets, two proper showers, and Wi-Fi. This is definitely not the experience of all the volunteers, however, and we both agreed early on that we were very lucky to be living in this particular host home.

A host child’s point of view…

Living at Mr & Mrs Nazare’s definitely keeps you entertained. With two host nieces at ages nine and one, I am kept busy helping with homework, playing games, singing songs and cooking together. I wanted to find out how my little buddy Kimmy felt about having volunteers live in her house after two cycles of hosting, and this was what she had to say:

A host mum and sisters point of view…

So when Shawndell and I arrived in Harare we were both quite apprehensive regarding host homes, however, after a brief conversation with our amazing Team Leader Sammi Efford we were both feeling very excited to meet our host family! Sammi spoke of the previous volunteers’ experiences with the Shavi’s and described them as fun-filled, the host mum was described as a mother figure to many. As a way to celebrate the International Day of Families, we thought it would be a great idea to hear about host homes from a different perspective.

Why did you start hosting volunteers?

Mum: At first I was asked to host, but later on I enjoyed it. I got used to the company of the volunteers and having them around the house.

What is your favourite thing about having host daughters/sisters?

Mum: We share ideas and cultural differences.

Sis: Just having you guys around.

What does family mean to you?

Mum: Everything. My girls mean everything to me.

Sis: A lot! Family is everything to me.

Do you consider volunteers as part of the family?

Mum: Yes, definitely.

Sis: I do, I really do. They’re just like family.

What do you learn from the cultural exchange?

Mum: The way you were brought up at home. Our daily routines are completely different - you are used to technology, such as washing machines.

Sis: The way they live in their houses.

Written by ICS Team Simukai Rowa Runners, in Mutare, Zimbabwe