After a week we’ve now settled into Mzimba, appreciating the amazing scenery and visiting the markets and shops, putting our Chitumbuka to use and talking to the locals around town. We’ve befriended a group of children (which seems to be growing in numbers) who are often waiting outside our house when we come back, ready to play “What’s the time Mr Wolf?” or sing “Head, shoulders, knees and toes”!
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Want a deeper insight into what an ICS placement looks like? Read the amazing blogs written by our past and present volunteers. Enjoy the journey!
Last Saturday we attended the beauty pageant of Ahuachapán. This is a yearly event and a big tradition here. It meant that we had the opportunity to observe and be a part of a local event. It went on for about four hours and there were many dance routines and dances dispersed throughout the proceedings. We all had a really good time and even agreed on who was eventually chosen as la Reina (The Queen).
I think it is safe to say my fellow volunteers here in Peru are a brave bunch.
Not for moving 6,000 miles away and leaving loved ones behind, mind you. Not for enduring the punishing Andean heat or breaking down language barriers to teach English either. But for letting me loose on the karaoke machine not once, but twice during our first weekend in Villa El Salvador!
The week began with lessons in culture and language, so we are now able to greet each other, introduce ourselves and ask for food at the market! We’ve also got a basic understanding of village life - which we were able to experience first-hand on Wednesday during our visit to the village of chief Kalolo (who owns 3000 villages in total).
In-country training is complete! In these last two weeks we’ve heard from those whose voices are the least heard in this beautiful but damaged country. These include Madre Guadeloupe, a survivor of the civil war but who lost family members; Manuel, an ex-gang member who has turned his life around; and various women who are fighting for their rights in El Salvador.
As we flew over Ethiopia, our stop over, the seatbelt light came on prompting everyone we would be landing soon. The plane began its gradual descent and we were greeted by the warm, inviting sunrise over Ethiopia, which stretched lines of vibrant blues, greens and deep orange across the horizon. For a moment everyone sat and stared out of the window, as we were welcomed to Africa.
This week we were invited to do something very special within the community with which we have been working; to release the baby turtles, which have been protected by a conservation project, back into the sea.
When we arrived at the centre I was surprised at how tiny the turtles were and how vulnerable they seemed when I considered that we were about to send them straight into the powerful waves of the Pacific. Thus, I was even more surprised when we put the turtles down onto the sand and without any hesitation they ran straight for the water, into the waves, and were gone.
This entry is aimed more at thought than fact…
Being British we all know how we go to work and aim at targets. Or how we go down the doctors and when asked how we feel, we have to put that feeling on a scale of 1 to 10, and the same the next time we are asked – even if that’s not really measurable and we didn’t even remember how we felt the last time anyway.
Since being in Villa El Salvador for a fair amount of time we have started to really get the feel of the place. Little sounds and sights have changed from new, interesting and unique to now a normal part of our life here. The sounds from our window, including the song that accompanies the garbage truck and the men driving small motorbikes speaking on megaphones, to the sights of the small motor taxis speeding down the roads, will forever stick in minds associated with the district of Villa El Salvador.