Our April - June 2016 cycle of volunteers in Zimbabwe were the last cycle to work alongside partner organisation Diocese of Mutare Community Care Programme (DOMCCP) after four years. The team have complied a series of case studies demonstrating the impact the ICS programme has had in Mutasa.

Kudzai was accepted onto the ICS programme with Progressio, based in Mutasa and working with DOMCCP (Diocese of Mutare Community Care Programme) as the partner organisation, and started his placement in April 2016. Kudzai graduated from the University of Zimbabwe with a Degree in Economics and has been seeking employment since his graduation in June 2015. 

As a local member of the community, Kudzai had heard great things about the ICS programme from friends and family in the area. He had also seen previous volunteers around the St. Matthias School grounds, where the office is based, in church and around the local surroundings. Living with just his mother in the village of Mvere, Kudzai walks over two hours a day to attend work; 3.5km each way. He also supports the running of the household, conducting chores, such as feeding animals, collecting firewood and watering the garden. Although Kudzai works tirelessly at home and travels a considerable distance to the office, he was determined not to let this effect his performance at work, and he never did. 

Kudzai planting

At the start, Kudzai was expecting the programme to be a great opportunity to work with new people and to develop some personal and professional skills. However, he didn’t realise the extent to which he would grow and learn. During the programme, Kudzai’s team worked within the community delivering sessions, organising events and conducting home visits. Through these activities he was able to vastly improve his communication skills with local people and also with his fellow team mates. 

His main struggle was understanding and talking with the UK volunteers, even though Kudzai was a high achiever in English at school. However, through cross-cultural working and practice, he was able to not only master the colloquial uses of the English language, he has mastered a number of accents and regional phrases; fully immersing himself into the experience. 

Beyond soft skill development, Kudzai credited the programme with giving him opportunities to learn more about Zimbabwe. He has exercised his knowledge on his home country during learning sessions, delivered to the UK volunteers, presenting the country’s historical and economic past and future. During social activities, the team would travel and experience the attractions in Manicaland, which were all new and exciting experiences for Kudzai and the other Zimbabwean volunteers. He feels more in touch with the community, and the exposure of the programme has strengthened his community awareness and passion for working within it.

Kudzai at a football event with local youth

One of his favourite parts of the programme was a session on HIV that himself and two other members of the team delivered to a clinic in D.C. Mutasa. He excitedly recalled the occasion, stating that initially the audience weren’t engaged and failed to participate in the session. However, by putting into practice the learnings and skills he had developed, he was successful at gaining the attention of the participants, delivering engaging content on gender and HIV and helping them to have fun at the same time. 

Throughout the programme, Kudzai has flourished, showing natural leadership skills and turning his hand to anything that has been asked of him. He has excelled in motivating the team, working with the community and stepping in as Team Leader when they were not present. He has enjoyed the placement so much he said that he 'never wants the programme to end' and he wishes 'to have the opportunity to work as a team again in the future'. 

Compiled by ICS UK Team Leader Anna Rose Barker (Team DOMCCP, April - June 2016 cycle, Mutasa, Zimbabwe)