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.
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.
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!!