Anna reflects: Raleigh friendships are built to last

28th July 2016

CRN_16B_SP_FB_small-0277“If you ask a Raleigh volunteer about their favourite things from expedition, you can be sure that ‘new friends’ will be high on their list.  On my expedition to Costa Rica and Nicaragua earlier this year, I met some interesting people who ended up feeling like family. Through the digging, trekking, cooking, dancing and laughing, my team of thirteen created a strong bond. We turned to each other for support in tough moments and encouraged each other when we doubted ourselves. It didn’t matter where we came from or how old we were, by the end of our Raleigh journey any differences we held had faded into insignificance.

It feels fitting to be reflecting on my Raleigh family on International Day of Friendship. Started by the UN, the day is designed to celebrate the friendships between peoples, nations and cultures which continue to inspire peace and connect communities.

I saw the power of friendship at our project site in San Antonio. Our team walked 4km to a water source where we met with community members to build a water storage container. This would be the starting point for a gravity-fed water system which would go on to provide clean water to 55 households. The work was tough – with the digging, moving rocks and mixing cement – but the team chatted and laughed throughout, motivating each other when we felt tired. We knew that together we’d be making a tangible and sustainable difference to this wonderful community.CRN_16B_SP_P2_WASH-4424Our varied differences and backgrounds didn’t matter to us, as we were working hard together in challenging conditions to achieve something bigger than ourselves. Language barriers were irrelevant and we succeeded in teaching each other new skills – loads of smiling and wild gesturing helps!

I think this is perhaps the essence of a Raleigh expedition –  it builds connections between people who might not otherwise have had the chance to meet. We shared our knowledge, ideas and passions, and challenged each other’s views. Together we became a force for change as we learnt what communities of friends can achieve when they work together.

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Raleigh friendships are about so much more than Facebook or Instagram likes. These friendships are based on something more substantial – a shared, life-changing experience and a common ambition to be active citizens. We became friends in challenging conditions and encouraged one another to persevere and grow.  Now our expedition has ended, but our friendships have continued. So I will be finding a way to celebrate International Day of Friendship with my new Raleigh friends, all across the world.”


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