Top things you need to know before your ICS placement


Malcolm Ankumah

Post by Malcolm Ankumah, who volunteered in Zambia with Restless Development on the International Citizens Service programme.

This is a collection of the different factors that had a substantial impact on my placement and the placement of the other volunteers around me. With the aim of ensuring that you are able to effectively achieve your objectives and get the most out of the programme.


1. Flexible and adaptable.


This is a phrase you will hear throughout the entire programme for good reason. You need to respond to every obstacle with the aim of achieving your objectives, so you really do not have the time to pause and moan.

For example if you are forming or helping a youth group to become active again but you find that your plans are not as successful as you hoped. I found that visiting the different religious congregations in the area and speaking to their youth groups after the service was a good way of getting in touch with out of school youth. Additionally you should always communicate with the religious leader of the congregation beforehand in order to understand what topics they feel are acceptable for you to teach their youth. Since this will help to avoid any misunderstandings between both your cycle and future cycles.


2. Health


If you do not keep up your water intake you will soon dip into your medical fund and I can personally testify to that. I bought one batch of the Lifesystems chlorine dioxide drops which run out a week or two before the end of placement, which is very bad considering that the majority of the time I was using my fellow volunteers water-to-go filter bottle. Thank you Joanna! I personally preferred the filter bottle and its a good idea to get an extra filter for the bottle. However if you do get the chlorine drops then it is a good idea to get at least three batches.

Having a poundland 10L water carrier definitely came in handy and we realised that if we filled it with treated water we could carry it with us anywhere. However its a good idea to get a few because they start to leak after about 3 weeks. And its never nice for someone who is giving you a lift to open the boot of their car, only to find that their clothes are drenched in water. (So to Mr Kasompe, I am really sorry.)

Additionally bring tablets for diarrhoea and bring tablets for constipation because it could go either way.

Buy more malaria tablets than you need because you should not apply the five-second rule to malaria tablets.


3. Collaborations


(left to right) International volunter: Joanna Dauncey, Rev. Banda of UCZ, International volunteer: Malcolm Ankumah

Its a good idea to introduce yourself to as many people as possible and tell them what your doing. My team found out too late that our hospital was willing to take us on outreach visits to the nearby communities where we would have been able to facilitate lessons with people, who we would not have contact with otherwise. Additionally by chance we bumped into someone who informed us that we could borrow their portable projector which had animations for sexual health, so it would be very helpful for our lessons.

Additionally by informing Rev. Banda, the Reverend for the United Church of Zambia, Chitambo branch, about what Restless Development is doing in the community. He was more than happy for us to facilitate lessons and workshops with the youth at his church. Furthermore when it came to our community event he was very helpful with key areas such as advertisement and equipment.


4. Don’t forget the Camera


So I took my phone rather than buy a camera because the phone has a good camera. However the main reason I would have bought a camera now is simply because of memory space. There is nothing like being able to film only 1%  of an amazing cultural dance because you phone’s memory is full. So now you can either sit there deleting pictures and videos in order to increase memory space and miss an amazing moment. Or you can just enjoy an amazing moment whilst still hoping that this is the day when you develop your photographic memory, because there are alot of dance moves here that you need to practice.

Plus you can get good quality, low price cameras from eBay.


5. Be Mentally Prepared


Be prepared that there will be challenges, there will be hard times. But never forget your reasons for being there and what you want to achieve at the end of the programme. It will make bathing outside in the cold at 6am much easier. Plus remembering that people in Iceland swim in Ice lakes just for fun.


6. Have fun!!

10550915_10152250241164013_5393376369833587586_nThis is the most important thing. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity after-all.




ICS gave me an opportunity

Dale right (UK International Volunteer) Nathan left (Zambian National Volunteer)

Left to right, Nathan (Zambian National volunteer), Dale (UK International Volunteer)

Dale Mason served as a volunteer in Zambia for Restless Development on the International Citizens Service Programme.

ICS is a UK government-funded development programme that brings together 18 to 25-year-olds from all backgrounds to fight poverty in overseas and UK communities. You don’t need cash, skills or qualifications to take part in ICS – just the ambition to make a difference.

Before ICS I was stuck in a boring retail job with not many opportunities to kick start my life. When I first saw the advert for ICS I thought that I would never stand a chance but they give everyone the opportunity to succeed. During the interview stage I gained valuable skills such as communication, time keeping and interview skills. Once being selected I was put in a placement in Zambia.

This 12 week programme had some many positives even with the challenges I faced. A couple of the challenges I faced was I had never been away from home, so I was often home sick. One of the other challenges was the cultural shock, seeing how developing countries actually live. This placement gave me valuable experience in global development and poverty, both of which I didn’t know much about before I went on this programme. I learnt so many different skills, for example, independence, cooking, team building etc.

During my placement I taught sexual and reproductive health and finance in a small school within a small community. Also I did some work in the local clinic, helping the doctor, doing HIV/AIDS awareness. There were many issues in my community, one that caught my attention the most was the extremely high rate of teenage pregnancy and early marriage. One of the stats I retrieved from the clinic was in the first 6 months in 2014, there was 48 recorded births in the clinic. Out of them 48, 29 were under 25 and 19 of them were under 20. The youngest being only 15. This is a major issue that needs to be addressed. Also early marriage is very high, this is due to old traditions not changing as the world changes.

Overall I learnt a massive amount about Zambia, Africa and about myself. This experience has made me gain so many new skills and especially made me gain confidence. Since I have been back I have been able to find a secure career and look to volunteer in the global development sector.

I really couldn’t recommend this programme enough for young people as its young people that make the difference.


Please look here: International Citizen Service

Dale Mason

Zambia 2014