Top ten weird and wonderful skills of a Raleigh volunteer

15th July 2016

From building a water-saving hand-washing device to communicating despite a language barrier – there are plenty of skills you can learn from volunteering with Raleigh.

But how to stop tie dye running when it’s drying, brew coffee in a sock and the precise depth of a long drop might not be at the top of the list of new skill expectations.

To mark Youth World Skills Day, Raleigh volunteers and beneficiaries past and present share the skills they have learnt and used on placement.

How to stop dye running when you make a kanga

Heleena

One skill I learnt whilst on Raleigh was how tie dye ‘kangas’. One of our Tanzanian Mummas used to make and sell these alternative ‘kangas’, which are usually made using more traditional fabrics and worn by most women over their clothes as skirts or wraps. She taught me the best method of tying the fabric to get the best patterns and the tricks to making sure the dye wouldn’t run after washing it (by using more expensive dye and a special wax). It was definitely a bonding moment between me with my Mumma as we managed to learn from each other with my very basic Swahili and her incredible patience at my poor attempts.

Heleena, Tanzania, 2015

 

Eating an after dinner mint without handling it

Emily%27s-Weird-Skill

I can’t recall the origins of this skill but it’s a good way to embarrass your mother in a restaurant when the after dinner mints arrive. Begin by carefully placing your chosen chocolate mint brand on the centre of your forehead. Raise your eyebrows up and down until it has slipped to the bridge of your nose. Tilt your head and wriggle your nose until you can use your tongue to flip it into your mouth. This is a particularly helpful skill to master on trek in Nepal where hand washing facilities can become scarce.

Emily, currently on expedition in Nepal

 

How to use a spud bar

Mike, India

I’m not particularly gifted with DIY and tools, but I got pretty handy with a spud bar (a ‘haari’ in Tamil) when I volunteered with Raleigh ICS in India in 2013! But truthfully the most useful skill I learned was perseverance and ambition for what I could do. Wherever you thought your ceiling was, ICS lifted it that bit higher.

Mike, India, 2013

 

How to quickly get everyone energised

Kate, Borneo, energisers

Energisers are simple games used to encourage interaction within a group, and to raise people’s energy levels. Energisers used to scare me a bit, I found them a little nerve-wracking. But three weeks after training began the venturers arrived and out of nowhere it was like someone had flicked a switch. Not only was I less nervous, but I was also having fun. Running and taking part in energisers improves your confidence and teaches you to have fun and not take things too seriously. They have been a truly enlightening experience and have provided me with skills I hope to carry forward beyond Raleigh.

Kate, currently a volunteer manager in Borneo

 

The best hula-hooping technique (apparently it’s all in the arms…)

Tom, Hula Hoop

When I was in Tanzania on a volunteering expedition with Raleigh International, I learnt how to hula hoop – yes, that’s right, hula hoop. Sounds silly, right? But there is more to it than what meets the eye… Hula hooping taught me to not take myself too seriously. And to be present in the moment, to enjoy it for what it was.  Don’t knock it until you try it – it’s a great way for me to relax after a day of hard work!

Tom, Tanzania, 2013

 

Improving your English

Khai_Jie_Lim_casestudy_action2

Raleigh helped me to improve my English and has improved my confidence. I feel Raleigh has made me come out of my shell. Raleigh is great at helping you to meet people that I wouldn’t normally meet in my usual life. I was shy and worried about making friends. Through the support of my volunteer managers I was helped to feel at ease and could start enjoying Raleigh straight away.

Khai Jie, Borneo, 2016

 

How to run a business

ICS_Echo6_Suzanna_01

I have learnt skills in customer care, how to negotiate, how to properly budget (using cash flow). I know exactly where my money goes. I have also gained more confidence and my public speaking skills have flourished. I can pitch, negotiate, go to meetings and speak publicly now with confidence.  

Susanna, entrepreneur, Tanzania, 2015

 

What a coffee sock is and how to use it to make the perfect cup of coffee

Lucy

I never really liked coffee until I volunteered with Raleigh in Nicaragua. But every household welcomes you in with a cup of warm, black, sugary coffee. It’s more comforting than anything. So when I moved to fieldbase in Costa Rica, I started making coffee using a coffee sock. It’s really easy – you just put the coffee in the sock, hang it over the wire frame, put a mug underneath, and then pour in the water.

Lucy, Costa Rica and Nicaragua, 2013 & 2014

 

How to use bamboo to start a fire and the precise depth of a long drop

Adam, Borneo

I first trekked in Costa Rica in 2009 as a venturer. The sense of adventure and the challenges of surviving for three weeks with just your fellow team members around you inspired me to pursue my Mountain Leader qualification in the UK and return to Raleigh as an Adventure Project Manager in 2016 in Borneo. This journey has taught me many useful skills including the art of erecting a hammock, how to use bamboo as a firestarter, whittling away the kilometres with compelling conversation and of course the precise depth of a jungle long drop!

Adam, Costa Rica 2009 and Borneo, 2016

 

How a ‘strawpedo’ can help you to stay hydrated

Pete%27s Weird Skill
My weird skill involves inserting a bendy straw in a bottle of liquid, allowing you to drink it really quickly by easily displacing the air. I’m quite good at this and have improved over the years through lots of practice with good friends. It has come in handy from time to time and is a useful skill for keeping hydrated on trek!

Pete, currently on expedition in Nepal

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