In September 2015 I flew to Lusaka, Zambia, with 23 other UK volunteers. We had all signed up to the charitable organisation, Restless Development, under the government funded International Citizen Service programme. Our aim: to complete three months voluntary work in eight different rural communities in the Central Province, focussed on the three goal areas of Sexual Reproductive Health, Civic Participation and Livelihoods. Our preparation: four days training in cultural acclimatisation and 800 GBP per person raised through eclectic activities. Our expectations: vague.
I did not want my experience to manifest in a series of photographs of tiny, dusty, undeniably cute African school children and a guilt/superiority complex.
Putting paradigms and preconceptions aside, here are a selection of honest observations of the community, culture, volunteers and resulting interactions. I’ve published the emails I wrote home whilst on placement, a selection of extracts from my personal journal kept throughout the experience, and a series of retrospective reflections (these remain in process). I’m hoping that this mosaic of smaller representations will recreate an accurate overall sense of my experience as an international volunteer.
A note on the name: the environment and diet were both exceptionally challenging at times. At the moments I found particularly hard, my yoga mat was my refuge, and when we ate nothing but rice for three days straight, peanut butter kept me on my feet.