Charlie 4 – Highlights, Challenges and Action at Home

14th December 2013

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Sadly it’s the last mambo from Charlie 4! As we write this, we’re currently huddled in our tent drinking chai, trying to warm up from the rain. On a more positive note though, we are now experts in flood management, our most effective method being the trenches now running through the middle of camp!  It’s almost impossible to fit all of our challenges and highlights into this one blog, but we’re going to give it a go! Following on from last week the first challenge to mention is undoubtedly the Charlie challenge, that is cooking on the rocket stove (and therefore just with firewood) for a whole week. Not as much of a problem as the rain though: Kim and Rachel had a particularly tricky morning trying to light the wood after heavy rain throughout the night. But being Charlie 4 we didn’t let it dampen our spirits and managed to get it going, which only made the porridge even sweeter.

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Without a doubt our next challenge has to be the new guests that the rain has bought to our camp: unfortunately rainy season does indeed mean insect season! There were several occasions in which our nightly meeting has been interrupted by a particularly brave cricket or grasshopper, and a few close brushes with some scorpions, but don’t fret, it takes more than that to scare Charlie 4!

Our highlights definitely have to include the local wedding which we attended as a group recently. Whilst we stumbled into the meeting by accident, they couldn’t have made us feel more welcome. Most of the UK volunteers will tell you that one of their highlights was being fed keki (cake) off a toothpick by the bride, especially Wes and Mike! At the after wedding party Charlie 4 came prepared with gifts, the lucky couple were treated to a hamper of food, which led to Pendo, Josephat and Freddie getting up and explaining the benefits of eating UK porridge. Following this, we were of course asked to get up and dance, which led to JoJo and Katie’s efforts gaining them a round of applause – we definitely shook things up!

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Another part of the program that all of us have definitely enjoyed is the home stays that we have taken part in this week. In an effort to gain an understanding of what real rural African life was like, we went away from the comforts of camp to stay with members of the community for one night. Of course we were all made to feel totally welcome and given plenty of jobs to do, from cooking with the families in the evening to getting up early and collecting firewood from the forest with them; we’ve all learnt a great amount from these home stays, and Bethan even gained a new dress!

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One of our definite highlights has to be the response we got from the local children at our recent sports day. Staying on the school site itself meant that there was no shortage of people willing to come along to have some fun whilst also learning about safe hand washing practices, the importance of boiling water and other important topics around health and sanitation. All the children were taught the good old fashioned English traditions of the egg and spoon race, the sack race and the three legged race. Corrin and Judy made quite a pair when demonstrating the last one!

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So now we’re approaching the end of our ICS experience and it’s time to turn our thoughts to our action at home. We have gained so much knowledge and experienced so many different situations that have completely changed our outlook on life, and we cannot wait to share it with everybody when we get home. We’re so sad to say that we have to leave our new family soon, but that’s not to say that we’re not missing everyone back home. We all can’t wait to see our loved ones. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed our ramblings over the past few weeks and that they’ve been informative to everyone listening. Final goodbyes from Charlie 4!

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Mural at Mtwike primary school

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