The induction training given to us by our Deputy Operations Managers (DOMs), Samir and Elisha was very helpful and inspirational. They had been team leaders themselves and we got to hear about their experiences as well. We did a lot of team building activities and energizers, which are one of the biggest parts of Raleigh life. The medical training given to us by medics Matt and Gavin was very interesting and informative. We learned about basic life support, recovery positions and different medical conditions that we might come across during the placement. They made us feel like our teams will be in very capable hands if anything goes wrong. We concluded the IC Team Team Leaders induction training with Elisha’s famous quote, ‘You are not born a leader, you become one’ and a promise to meet again for two weeks of intensive training with UK Team Leaders.
We met the UKTLs on 19th September in MC Guest House, Jawalakhel. As meeting new people goes, the atmosphere was a bit nerve wrecking and exciting in the beginning. We spent those two weeks in training with the program officers, medics, DOMs and project partners. Even though we were from two different countries miles away, we had many things in common. It was great knowing about the differences too. All the Active Global Citizen sessions and fun sessions that we did, helped us know each other better. After we were assigned our co-team leaders, we went for our Project Planning Visit in the respective villages. We got to know the villagers and the problems that we needed to address during our time there. We realized how important our roles were in managing and balancing the expectation of our team and community members.
Everything was getting real in a speed of light and in no time, the Gorkha team leaders left for their pre-departure training and then to their villages. It was our turn now. We would have volunteers coming from the UK and Nepal and we were expected to take care of them for the next three months! We left the MC Guest House on 7th October to welcome the UKVs at Tribhuwan International Airport. Personally, it felt very surreal to me. Standing in arrival doors of the airport, I was wondering how they might feel after seeing us; how they might feel in the villages; how they will cope with entirely different lifestyles of Nepalese people; how they will get used to regular dal, bhat, tarkari (lentils, rice, vegetables). I was reflecting on my experiences as an In Country Volunteer as well. In those two hours of waiting, I weighed the difference between being a volunteer and being a team leader and as the UKVs started raining in from those doors, I realized what they were.
One of our first jobs as team leaders was to take the UKVs for a tour to Patan Durbar Square. We were divided into four temporary November Charlie teams and each of us had a group of 6-7 volunteers. We had more fun than expected during the tour. We managed to show them the Golden Temple and during our visit there, we also found ourselves a self-appointed guide. He told us about the history of the temple and about Nepali culture, mandalas and spiritual designations, even I was unaware of. It was wonderful coming across such a knowledgeable person. He also took us to a tour of his Thanka School. The volunteers enjoyed it a lot. And it was amazing how it helped us know the UKVs better.
It was just the second day and somehow, we had found our comfort zones. After the lunch, masala tea and a bit of soaking in the art and history of ancient Nepal, we departed to the venue of pre-departure training where we would meet the ICVs next day and get started on the journey of three challenging months of our life. We are still here now, training all the volunteers and building our team as much as possible. Team allocations were done yesterday and all of us are very happy with our team. We have got an interesting mix of volunteers and they are energetic and excited as we are. After the village presentation and tentative plans that we made for the first week of our stay in the villages yesterday, we are focusing on the Casualty Evacuation (CASEVAC) and Medical Evacuation (MEDIVAC) training today. We will be departing for our villages tomorrow.
All of this feels like a big mitosis cell division in terms of how everything is systematically planned and even in the case of few mutations (i.e. change in plans) we work our way through it step by step. The whole mechanism of Raleigh body fends off and accepts those mutations and evolves every cycle. It feels great to be a part of two of those cycles. This autumn cycle, we hope to rise our bar higher and be a role model we always aspired to be.
Written By: Team Leader Pallavi
November Charlie 5