“There’s free range, and then there’s free range” were some of the first words uttered to me by Yvonne, our group leader, upon arrival in Regina Coeli. This is definitely the latter. A couple of days ago we were washing our bed sheets, outside obviously, and a baby goat wanders out of our house. I kid you not. (No pun intended). It must have come in the front door, had a wander around the living area, before trotting out of the side door, where its unsuspecting audience was gathered. Upon regaining the ability of cognitive thought, Joy went to close the front door. Just in time to observe the nanny goat attempting to follow her kid.
There are animals everywhere, goats, cows, dogs, and who could forget nature’s alarm clock, the common rooster. Of which most decide to stay quiet during the day, strutting around, feeling self-important, surveying the land, etc. Then, as regular as clockwork, 5.35 AM, they begin the very important task of waking every single living soul within a mile radius. All in all, it’s been an interesting few days, especially when taking into account that most of us international volunteers are strict city folk, and only encounter chickens when they arrive on a plate. I do have to admit, I’ve had several thoughts about putting a certain rooster on a plate…
We have been in Zimbabwe for 2 weeks now, of which we spent nine days on the outskirts of Harare for in-country orientation, the rest in Regina Coeli, a mission in Manicaland. This is where we will be working with DOMCCP, Diocese of Mutare Community Care Programme over the next 2 months. It’s certainly been something of a culture shock, as even the capital was incredibly different from my native Yorkshire.
So far, in the five days we have spent in the more rural areas, we have not been idle. Everything has been planned and plotted, down to minute details. We now have lesson plans, action plans, plans of action (two different things, I assure you), group plans, individual plans and so on and so forth. We have also been visiting and introducing ourselves all over the province. We have visited the DOMCCP offices, within the mission. With the exception of a wheelbarrow full of gardening implements and a view of the hospital herb garden, it could have been any office in the world. There was more papers and files than there was strictly enough room for, posters of both the informational and inspirational variety, as well as an overflowing desk. One difference perhaps was the inhabitants, two lovely ladies who greeted us with large grins and warm welcomes. Rosemary and Scolarstic are vital to in everything DOMCCP does within the community. From liaising with the various stakeholders e.g. healthcare workers, village heads and NAC (National AIDS Council) to growing herbal immune boosting remedies.
It has been noticed, that in our exploration of the community and introductions to various people, there has not been a single person who couldn’t spare a smile and a greeting. Be it priest, nun, nurse, teacher, child or just one of the neighbours, they all greet us with genuine pleasure. Everybody is incredibly friendly. Especially the children! We have so far run two HIV sessions for two separate schools, and have become aware of how polite and intelligent the children are, no matter what the age. Information only has to be given once, and they are able to grasp it. We plan on running a great deal more sessions over the next eight weeks. I’m sure that these will be reported on in further blog posts.
ICS volunteer Hannah Prentice writes from Zimbabwe.
Photo: A Zimbabwean farmer and his goats is from previous volunteer Aamna Ali, Hannah's internet connection is too slow to send photos at the moment.