So we’re a third of the way through our placement here, it feels like time here is going way too quickly for my liking! Construction is going well, everyone is getting really stuck in and our group is working so well together. Aside from building eco latrines part of our mission out here is giving back to the community in other ways as part of our complimentary activities. Two afternoons a week, we split off into smaller groups and brainstorm ideas for activities and events that we can hold in the local community of El Pochote, based on our individual interests and passions. From Group 3, me, Miri and Abi are part of the human rights group along with Deborah, Shyla, Jenny, Sophie, Tania, Maria, Keyling and Dilcia. We have a number of options we are keen to explore including organising a celebration for the women in the community and an anti bullying campaign in the school we work at. One of the most promising ventures is the woman’s choir which we began last week. The cycle before us started this choir and invited the woman from El Pochote to meet once a week and we thought it was a brilliant idea to continue this, not only because we have a few keen singers amongst us but the local volunteers talked about it with such enthusiasm that it would be wrong not to continue this with them.  

So this Wednesday was our second week of holding the woman’s choir. The journey to El Pochote in the taxi is anything but comfortable, everyone was feeling pretty exhausted and hungry, the roads are full of pot holes and the rain was pouring down but all that was immediately forgotten when we got to the school and saw 10 smiling faces eagerly waiting our arrival. In total 18 people from El Pochote attended which was a significant increase to the previous week. We started off with a few warm up exercises and then got straight into the singing, going over the songs we had learnt before and introducing a few new ones. When leading the singing, translating everything from English to Spanish and making sure everyone understood was a little challenging at times because our fluent Spanish speaker Sophie, who we all depend upon immensely, was suffering with a severe sore throat, but luckily the singing itself was pretty self-explanatory and everyone chipped in with translating, so before long we were one big merry band of singers. 

We managed to organise everyone into groups to sing the Spanish translation of the Christian song ‘Seek ye first’ in a round, which at first seemed like an overambitious task and sure it may not have been pitch perfect but everyone was loving it. We were all so pleasantly surprised to see how enthusiastic every single member of the choir was, their eagerness to keep practising and the different ideas that everyone put forward. All the UK volunteers left with huge grins across their faces, not just because this meant it was pizza time (a weekly reward we have decided upon) but because we had been a part of something really magical. We had given the people of El Pochote a place to all come together and do something they love – the feeling couldn’t be warmer. We have decided that next week we will choose a selection of songs to work on, with the view to performing at the woman’s celebration at the end of a cycle. Not only does this give us a chance to showcase what we have been doing each week but it gives everyone a sense of motivation, something that we’re all collectively working towards. 

Overall an absolutely amazing and rewarding experience, here’s to next week!

Written by ICS volunteer Clementine Parker