Founded in 2013, the concept of a ‘World Toilet Day’ seems simply laughable to a group of 20-something-year olds from the UK. That is until they are flown halfway around the world and faced with the shocking reality that around 2.4 billion others face with regards to sanitation and waste disposal. Being from the UK, or indeed almost anywhere in the western world, such facilities are often taken for granted. It takes a drastic life change, or I suppose an ICS placement, to make one truly realise the importance of toilets and sanitation disposal.
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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!
“I need the toilet”, the top excuse used to get out of a lesson, the way to escape a first date gone wrong, the sanctuary where a newspaper can be read in peace. In the UK, going to the loo can be something of a respite. For 2.4 billion people worldwide, however, a trip to the lavatory can be life-threatening. Shared latrines and contaminated water systems can lead to unsafe drinking water, food contamination, parasitic infection… the state of a toilet can have a devastating effect on communities in developing countries.
I first found out about this volunteer opportunity at the beginning of August when my parents came home with an application form that I filled out and sent off to YONECO (Youth Net and Counselling). After submitting my application, I began to worry and was afraid of what the role will be like, how I could cope with other volunteers?... So, I decided to research other previous volunteer stories as well as additional information regarding the charity itself.
I am trying to give a name to this day but adjectives like: special, memorable or fantastic are not quite right, they seem far too common for a day that definitely was not usual. In the end, I choose the words “surprise and relief” as they best describe my feelings and the day of 28 October 2016.
We left Villa San Antonio very early in the morning, heading to Tegucigalpa, just in time for the “Discovery Club Expo” organised by Glasswing. This event involved eight other charity projects from across Honduras and involved a science competition.
At pre-departure training, we had to make a list of hopes and fears from our placement. In all honesty, my biggest fears predominantly included falling ill and getting extremely sunburnt. Being ginger, I burn almost everywhere, including on a rainy day at Wimbledon, let alone in an African country in the peak of dry season. When we were arranged into our respective teams at the training, it was clear that most the gingers going to Malawi ended up placed in my group, with nearly half of us (Oli, Julia and I) having ginger, or strawberry blonde, hair.
As a group of British volunteers coming to Honduras with varying levels of Spanish, it was inevitable some things would get lost in translation. Now as we are coming to the end of week five here in La Villa San Antonio, I think we can all admit that the added time it takes to make a decision or create a plan is a frustrating symptom of the language barrier.
Nicaragua has a rich literary tradition, and the quality and influence of its poetic output has earned itself the nickname ‘Land of the Poets’. The country has been host to many important literary figures, including Rubén Dario, regarded as Nicaragua’s most famous poet. Many literary works have intersected with Nicaragua’s turbulent political history, meaning many of the poetry has been inspired by Nicaragua’s political history and poets have gone on to participate in its political and social life as revolutionaries and politicians.
Empezamos las construcciones. Con mucho ánimo y energía nos dirigimos a las casas de las beneficiarias, las que nos esperaban muy entusiasmadas porque les construiríamos su eco-horno, y tanto entusiasmo se debe a que ellas saben que lo que están recibiendo es un beneficio muy grande que les ayudara en su economía ya que todas las beneficiarias a las que les construimos se dedican a hacer pan para vender.
So, unbelievably, we are half way through this incredible experience! In just the six weeks we’ve been here already, we have managed to do so much. On Friday 4 November, we had our mid-term evaluation, which gave us a chance to reflect on how much we have achieved, where we began and what we have left to do. If you asked me six weeks ago how I felt, I would have probably told you I had made a mistake, but now I am incredibly proud of all the work we have done and to see what a difference we are making to the children. This has been my journey so far.