Whilst walking through many rural villages on trek, we were greeted and received warmly into these rural communities by adults and children alike. The villagers were extremely friendly and welcoming, wishing us the best for on our onward travels. The happiness and friendliness of the communities was a constant morale boost to all of us in Alpha 4. Their eagerness to receive us and welcome us, complete strangers, was inspiring.
Something that we had to be extremely aware of whilst on trek was our water consumption. This was due to two factors: the lack of water availability and the difficulty of the water pumping and purification process. At one of the campsites it took an exhausting hour to pump just a meagre half jerry can of water. A lot of effort must be given in order to gain those precious drops. This contrasted greatly with the ease of access to water in the international volunteers’ home countries, such as the UK, where one can just turn on a tap.
Resourcefulness was also an extremely important part of trek. The inability to buy a quick replacement or a quick snack at a moment’s notice was evident from day one. An example of some impressive resourcefulness shown was by Chacha when he fixed his backpack with a piece of paracord when the strap ripped in two. The lack of people and shops on hand to give us what we need at these moments forced us to use our heads and to think outside of the box to come up with alternative solutions.
On the 5th December, Alpha 4 decided to partake in the Dutch Christmas tradition of Sinte Klaas. Each team member was given the name of another volunteer who they had to give something secretly, as a gift. Letters and blog posts from family and friends were also regarded as precious gifts in a sense. In this environment, simple words from loved ones were cherished for the rest of the journey. The sentimental worth proved more valuable than any flashy expensive present. There was present giving between the two trek groups too, with someone receiving the generous gift of a Twix in one of the food drops.
The group quickly grew accustomed to the lack of technology, making us more grateful and aware of our magnificent surroundings. An evening activity that was enjoyed by the whole group was star gazing. The clear nights showed off the stunning African night sky with occasional shooting star streaking across it. Trek has given us time to reflect on the values of giving and receiving, and all the wonderful things that we receive on a daily basis that do not have monetary value.