‘What will I do every day?’
‘What’s a typical day like?’
We get lots of questions like this. It’s only natural that you will want to know more about your ICS placement.
The short answer is that no two days are the same. Every day will vary depending on your country, your project and your team. However, here are some things that everyone will experience as a volunteer on Raleigh ICS.
Prefer to watch a video?
One of our volunteers made of a ‘day in the life of a Raleigh ICS volunteer in Nicaragua’ video. Watch and enjoy!
You and your team
It’s all about the people
You will be in a team of about 12 volunteers and supported by two team leaders. Half of the team will be from the UK and the other half will be from the country you’ll be working in. It’s a great way to get to know the culture, customs and language, and integrate with the community that you will be working with.
Everyone’s a leader
You will take turns being a weekly leader. This means planning your aims and activities for the week. It’s a chance to gain leadership experience, learn to delegate and manage your team. You will usually buddy up with a local volunteer, and you’ll always be supported by your team leaders.
Live with a host family
This is a really special part of the programme. It’s a chance to understand what daily life is like. It’s an opportunity for you to build strong relationships with the people in your community, which helps make the project more impactful. You’ll share with at least one other person from your team – usually a local volunteer.
Don’t expect 5 star luxury
Homes will be basic – you might have an outdoor latrine or long-drop as a toilet, a bucket shower to wash yourself, and little or no electricity. You’ll probably brush your teeth with the stars above you, and your head torch will come in handy, especially for middle-of-the-night loo visits. Importantly, you will always have a bed to rest your head after a long day, and access to safe drinking water.
Eat like a local
Your family will cook breakfast, lunch and dinner for you, although there will be plenty of chances for you to help. You’ll usually return from your project site and eat in your host home. You’ll eat a lot of staple foods such as rice and beans in Nicaragua and Tanzania, or dhal (lentils) and curry in Nepal. There probably won’t be lots of meat but depending on what is in season at the time, you might get some fresh fruit and vegetables, or milk or cheese.
Not your typical 9-5
You’ll usually wake up when the sun rises. The sounds of dogs barking, pigs oinking, and chickens clucking are likely to be your alarm clock. It’s up to your team to decide your work schedule, depending on the needs of the project and when people in your community are available. But expect your days to start early and your weeks to be busy. Here is an overview of some the activities you might be doing day to day.
Carry out research
You could split into smaller teams and hold focus groups, or visit homes and families within the community to carry out surveys. The aim of the research is to help you, the community, and the local project partners understand what the current situation in the community is, and what the priorities of your project are. It also helps evaluate the success of the projects later.
You could hold sessions with a women’s group, a youth group, or do an awareness raising day (or ‘action day’) with the whole community. Highlight and talk about important topics – for example, the results from your research, the value of handwashing, or opportunities to become entrepreneurs and start new businesses.
Encourage peer education
Work with a youth group in the community. Inspire them to become young leaders, have a voice within the community, and play their part in protecting their environment and developing their confidence and skills that are useful for their futures. Empower them to share their knowledge with friends and family.
Deliver workshops and training sessions.
On a water and sanitation (WASH) placement – you could train a water committee to manage the community’s water system effectively and sustainably. Or train a group of young people to be FECSA promoters to improve health and sanitation (FECSA means Healthy Families, Schools and Communities).
On a livelihoods placement you could run workshops on skills that are useful for a business, such as leadership, basic finance, or marketing. Or work with an entrepreneur one-to-one to help them develop a business plan.
Improve community infrastructure
On a water and sanitation placement you might get involved in some community infrastructure work. You could work with the community to dig trenches and lay pipes for a gravity-fed water system, build an example eco-latrine, or help to transport materials so that each family can build their own toilet block.
Build community networks
Identify and help train local people who are willing to be mentors. For example, someone with an existing business could mentor a young entrepreneur who is thinking about starting up a new business.
Reflect on your activities and the work you have done. Share your successes and challenges with the team. And use what you’ve learned to help plan the rest of the project.
It’s not all work
You will have breaks, and you and your team will plan time to rest, read, or play sport. After dinner, you’ll usually have the evenings to spend with your host family, write in a journal, or play some games with your team. You’ll often get an early night and go to bed when the sun goes down.
Depending on the needs of the project, you will probably work for six days a week. On the seventh day, your team might visit a nearby community, explore the local area, or you might be lucky enough to join in a local celebration.
We hope this gives you a bit of a flavour of what you could expect day-to-day. However, the only real way to find out what life is really like as a Raleigh ICS volunteer is to experience it.