Learning to embrace opportunity

7th December 2013

This is a guest blog from Becky Taylor and Hannah Bennett in Zulu 6. They are currently home-staying in the community of El Canton, working on a water project designed to raise awareness of sanitation issues.

CRN 13L KW FB allocations zulus-7954

Going into our last phase of Raleigh was bittersweet. Bitter because it was our last phase but sweet because we were confident it would be our best phase yet. In El canton we are working in the community to support the construction of a gravity fed water system; digging trenches, transporting materials and laying pipes to ensure that everyone has access to clean water within their own homes. We have also been organising action days and community activities to raise awareness of the importance of hygiene and sanitation. At the moment most of the community don’t do simple things like wash their hands before meals or brush their teeth. It’s a hard job to educate the whole community on the links between hygiene and disease.

As well as the work for the water system we are living as part of the community— eating, sleeping and washing where they would every day. It is fascinating to see how simple yet happy their lives are. In Tim and Hannah’s house, one balloon provided a whole evening of fun and laughter, and it’s the same in every house here, the simplest things we would barely notice at home provide so much fun and enjoyment. 

After phases on San Lucas or trek where water was limited, we have learnt to appreciate running water and how much difference running water in your own home makes. Before Raleigh arrived some families in El Canton had to walk 800 metres to get water and survive on one to two buckets of water a day. Every phase makes you re-evaluate the importance of even the simplest things we have back home, like your own comfy bed. There are very few home comforts here, but we’re appreciating what we do have, like lots of good food that we don’t have to cook ourselves!

We have also learnt to embrace every opportunity and do things that back home we would never do. To get the most out of the experience we are learning to throw ourselves into everything, without questioning. We are all trying to improve our Spanish but it’s amazing to see that even though many of us cannot speak to our families, language is not that important. The more effort you put into enjoying your family, the more you get out. Will and Ceri have made advent calendars, Becky and Carmijn have taught their families card games. It’s so much fun to simply spend time in each others company.

Many of us came on Raleigh to make a difference to the world, and on community phase above all others, we can really see how we’re making a small but significant difference to the lives of the people in El Canton. Being here really puts our own lives into perspective and over the next 12 days we want to put our all into getting the most out of this phase. We will take every opportunity to teach everything we can in order for them to lead a more hygienic and happy life.