Wow what a great first two weeks – it’s been such an experience in itself already, from the brilliant, inspiring people we’ve met, to adapting to massive new culture shock.

Our first few days of language orientation were extremely hard work but really interesting – our teacher Mr Padozi made learning fun, and as a group we are now starting to pick up the basics and are hoping to be able to say a few sentences by the time we leave.

Chief Mutasi with ICS group leaders

The next part of orientation was all about culture. We were visited by Chief Mutasi who gave us a much better understanding of the culture, from the chief hierarchy to relationships and marriage. Before we met the chief we had to learn the cultural way on how to greet him, with a song and a special clap. (Chief Mutasi is pictured above with group leaders Usman Azam, left, and Aamna Ali, right.)

We also had guest speakers: Sister Evelyn from Diocese of Mutare Community Care Programme (DOMCCP) and Pastor Humphrey from the Churches Against Aids Forum (CAAF). They gave us a much better understanding and insight into our placements and the communities with which we will be working.

We visited the Roman Catholic Church of Chiconga where we met the bishop, who gave us a better understanding on the prevalence of HIV in the area. The bishop and the community were really welcoming and interested in what we were doing in their community.

CAAF team in Honde valley

Finally we visited Honde Valley where we were greeted by Chief Muponda and Mr Mutsamba, a chairman for a local support group. (The picture above is of the CAAF team in Honde valley.) We greeted the chief tradionally; some of the children from Jombe primary school did a tradional dance to welcome us.

Chief Muponda and Mr Mutsamba with group

We spent some time talking to the chief (above, middle) and Mr Mutsamba (front row, third from right) who is an interesting and inspiring person. We really enjoyed the visit as it allowed us to see where we would be staying for the next eight weeks.

Honde mission clinic

We went to Honde Mission Clinic and had the opportunity to talk to one of the nurses and to look around the clinic.

Honde clinic inside

This gave us a better insight into the number of patients, the amount of people being tested for HIV and who the most vulnerable groups of people are.

Mrs Nyanhete and group

We visited a support group called Tazvida run by a care worker, Mrs Nyanhete. This group helps people who have tested positive for HIV to feel like they are still part of the community, through horticulture groups and allowing them to share their ideas and fears and then giving them advice on how to deal with those problems.

Volunteers fixing school

After a trip to Jombe primary school we could see how much work there is to be done, and we got the chance to help with a small part in reconstructing the school. Here we also got the chance to harvest maize which was a new and different experience for us all, one we all enjoyed.

Harvesting maize

Blog by Progressio ICS volunteer Tara Craig.