What are we doing here?

We are a group of diverse individuals who have united to hopefully make a difference within the community. We are all volunteering for the charity Progressio as part of the International Citizen Service (ICS). The partner organisation for our project is the Midlands AIDS Service Organisation (MASO), based in Gweru, which already carries out some fantastic work within the Midlands province of Zimbabwe. Meeting the friendly people at MASO and the district officers at orientation really made us feel like part of the team. Our group are the first of four, 12 week cycles, so we expect to face some challenges before really getting stuck into the practical side of things, such as building community relationships. Our project has three main goals: increase the knowledge of grandmothers about managing Income Generating Activities (IGA’s), increasing HIV and AIDS awareness among youths (aged 15-25), and increasing awareness of child rights among orphans and vulnerable children (OVC’s) and their caregivers. 

Who are we?

Our team is made up of 12 volunteers in total, six UK volunteers and six national volunteers, we have one national and one UKV volunteer committed to each job role, so let’s meet them.

Jack and Rue make up our Community Liaison team, these two will make sure communities and their chiefs are aware and supportive of our plans and the work we propose to carry out. Jack is 21 from North London, and Rue is 18 from Mberengwa. Jack is currently on a gap year, he has taken part in the London triathlon and saw Usain Bolt collect his 100m Gold Medal at the London Olympics, so he is definitely into his sports. Rue loves having fun and enjoys open communication. As a child, Jack used to think sultanas and raisins were dead flies, so he really doesn’t like those, and Rue doesn’t like people looking down on others. So far, Jack is loving the project and is eager to get out into the field to put his plans into action, making a notable difference although Rue is nervous in case the communities we reach are dismissive of our programme. Believe it or not, Jack appeared on the front cover of Women’s Own magazine when he was a baby.

Our Language team are Joyce and Iona, these ladies will be ensuring our group have an open communication channel, as well as facilitating language lessons within the group. Joyce is 24 from Gokwe, and Iona is 23 from Edinburgh in Scotland, and she has definitely travelled the furthest to be here. Joyce loves singing and dancing and Iona loves being outdoors and swimming. They both love travelling and hope the project will have a positive impact within the communities. Joyce dislikes overly dependent people and Iona dislikes time wasting, she fears our project may be rejected by the target communities, lessening the impact we have. Joyce anticipated the UK volunteers being a selfish group of people but loves how interested and eager the UK volunteers are to learn about the Zimbabwean culture. Iona was struck by the lifted spirits of the national volunteers and how they love to sing and dance. 

Steph and Mitchell (pronounced ‘me-shell’) are our Learning team, we aim to share our skills with each other as well as learn about several cultures, not just British and Zimbabwean, throughout our placement. Steph and Mitchell will be ensuring these activities are carried out. Steph and Mitchell are both 18, Steph is from Highworth, England and Mitchell is originally from Malawi. Telling jokes is an activity Steph enjoys and is not embarrassed to admit that she finds herself quite hilarious. Mitchell is always happy and cheers others up with her energy, so these two will get along quite well. Steph loves swimming, Mitchell loves dancing and both ladies enjoy singing. Steph does not like selfish people who don’t contribute to a team and Mitchell doesn’t like being bored. 

Now for Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E). Our M&E team consists of Abiana and Ahmad. The purpose of M&E is what it says on the tin really, they will ensure all activities are observed and assessed, which will verify we are completing the right activity for the overall goal, and that we are carrying the activities out correctly. Abiana is 21 from Masvingo/Fort Victoria in Zimbabwe and Ahmad is 24, recently becoming a Leicester resident. Abiana doesn’t like being bored so Ahmad being the joker and magician he is, will keep her on her toes. Abiana is rarely seen without her beaming smile and Ahmad loves to climb, so he is there one moment, gone the next. They are both looking forward to the project and getting into the field.

Combining the Media and Visual Media roles are Nyasha and I (Rhiannon), in this role, we must ensure photographs and videos are taken to document as much as possible. We must also ensure blogs are completed to provide updates on what we are up to. Nyasha is 21 from Mhondoro and I am 24 from Liverpool. Nyasha and I are both positive people and very sociable. Nyasha likes to have fun and work with easy-going people and I like tea. I am 100% terrified of spiders and Nyasha does not like people who look down on others. We both hope to make a positive impact on the project at the end of our 12 weeks. We have noticed both the national and UK volunteers are really friendly. We hope to notice some personal development throughout our time here. Nyasha is a very hands-on person and is skilled in woodwork. I, however, have a strange obsession with the moon and rainbows.

Last but not least, we have our Team Leaders, Amisa and Alice, they are both responsible for overseeing the whole project and other job roles to make sure the work is completed on time. We can speak to these ladies too if we have any concerns or struggles. They also have the pleasure of completing uninteresting but vital tasks such as writing reports. Amisa is 21 from Malawi, and Alice is 27, originally from Leeds but a well-seasoned traveller. Amisa loves playing with children and Alice embraces her inner child with her love of Disney so these two will be like peas in a pod. Alice loves cheese, but hates mushrooms and Amisa enjoys writing poetry. Amisa is looking forward to becoming an active citizen in her community. Amisa loves singing and dancing and is great at keeping the conversation flowing within the team. Alice has travelled to over 10% of the world so who knows where you may find her next.

As a team, we are looking forward to working cross culturally and hope we will get along well. That is the team. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for taking the time to read this far.

Get to know us, and keep your eyes peeled for our next updates.

Mazvita (thank you in Shona).

Written by ICS volunteer Rhiannon Carroll