The air was splitting and the sky was glowing without effort as we were rushing to the conference room to make it in time for the programme to commence at eight o’clock on a Friday morning. We were all tired from either the long hours of travelling on buses or because of the jet lag, the long hours on flights and having to calm nerves high above in the skies.

Mr Mark Mudimu marked the start of the programme by welcoming each and every one of us and as such everyone was assimilated into one big International Citizen Service (ICS) family. The objectives of the orientation training was to give volunteers a better understanding of the ICS programme and how it is aligned with Restoration of Hope, Diocese of Mutare Community Care Programme (DOMCCP) and Simukai which was of paramount importance.

As the days of training passed we were put into small groups to ensure interaction and teamwork amongst volunteers. All the groups would present back to the whole group on the tasks that they were assigned to carry out. Throughout the training we kept in mind the seven principles of ICS and also the ICS sectors.

Furthermore, we looked at the statistics on HIV and AIDS, which is still rife in Zimbabwe. The outcome was striking because we discovered that in Zimbabwe every one person in four people has got the virus whereas in the United Kingdom every one person in two hundred and ninety seven people has got the virus.

The afternoon activities that were held during the training week were really productive.  We did a lot of team building exercises which included games and discussions. We played some sports such as soccer, basketball and even a treasure hunt.

The pictures shown were taken during the treasure hunt and it was quite an experience for all of us. It was a wild goose chase as volunteers were scattered around like litter in the yard of Rockwood searching for clues like their life depended on it and the best team that won had a candlelit dinner in the dining room and it was really romantic.

One of the most important topics that we discussed was the cultural exchange, based on a survey comparison between the nationals and internationals about the roles played by men and women in the different societies. This highlighted a lot of things to talk about and helped all the volunteers to understand the way of life in both countries. It also meant that high expectations that had been made before the start of the training could be reduced as they might hinder the success of the whole programme.

Finally it was Thursday, which was the last day of the orientation training and the team leaders were making sure that every team member of the three teams had completed their KAP 1 surveys and that the contract between the volunteers and ICS was well understood. There was a dark cloud amongst the volunteers because though we avoided talking about it, on Friday morning we were going to be separated as some volunteers would be headed to Bulawayo, Nyanga and Mutare.

We ended the training in style in the afternoon by throwing a surprise birthday party for national Wadzanai and international Sarah. This cleared the air as volunteers were ecstatic and the mood livened up. Even though we were going to head to different directions the smiles we shared together predicted that the ICS journey was going to be a memorable one and we were all zealous about starting to work and playing an integral part in our communities ……

Written by in-country ICS volunteer Thinathea Moyo