So the time has flown and we have been at Eventure Project Zambia for more than a month already! During this time we took a week to settle in, we welcomed our first 4 volunteers, we experienced our first full module of both the Eventure Care and Northern Star Academy (during which we also took on the role of tutors), got to know all the amazing people (the pupils, daycare kids and staff), successfully finished the module and already welcomed 10 more volunteers! It has been busy…
I think it is important to talk about why we came here – besides the amazing opportunity to go to Africa. As Kristians and I plan to, in the future, become mountain guides (or any sort of guides in the nature, really), we saw this opportunity of being facilitators as a great lesson in leadership skills. And I must say – with a month under our belt – this has turned out to be very true.
We were lucky to start out with only 4 volunteers, which gave us ample time to really settle in, find our leadership style, improve our cultural knowledge and really get to know the local development team and staff. We also got a chance to step into the role of tutoring, which was amazing – and gave us even more practice in public speaking. I, personally, feel like I have come a long way since the Expedition Leader course we took in 2017. I no longer blush or stutter when speaking in front of a lot of people (that I don’t know). I don’t speak too fast any more and I am trying to control my ticks (I still keep playing with a zipper or whatever else I have around). I feel comfortable and accepted and as if I am doing the right thing.
I feel like we have also brought a bit of us and our interests into the project. We start our mornings, for example, with running at 5:30 and we have encouraged volunteers, staff and the NSA students to join us. There have been mornings with 1 person and mornings with 7. But the next module seems more promising as many of the students and staff have promised to join in and build a new habit. Kristians starts his mornings in the “Jungle gym,” where he is usually joined by some of the volunteer-guys or some girls who are doing yoga and stretching.
We have also used slacklining as a fun team- and confidence-building tool, for both volunteers and NSA pupils. And what great learners they are!
But in comparison, I feel like we have learned more than what we have been able to teach/facilitate. The pupils and staff have really shown us how a team should work together, encourage each other and simply be happy. No one here is worried about “how they might look” or “what if I do something silly.” Life is simpler, people are more open and thus also encourage the volunteers to open up and truly be themselves. We have spent a lot of our free time simply hanging out with the pupils instead of on our own – it is just such a great experience.
I wanted to also mention a little adventure we had – at the end of our first month we had to go to a bigger town called Kasama in order to apply for the visa extension. As we left camp on a Sunday, we didn’t want to have the boatswain to come to work to take us to Mpulungu, where the bus station is, and thus decided to take the kayak instead. The morning had very calm waters but by the time we left in the afternoon the waves were pretty decent, especially in the open water. We packed some of our things in a proper waterproof bag, strapped it on top, and then placed the rest of the luggage in the rear and front “dry-compartments”. Or what we thought were dry…
Turned out that there was a small plug missing from a tiny water outlet (why was that even there??), resulting in the water splashing into both of the compartments. Due to the big waves we also had quite a hard time just to stay upright – there were many a moments where it was borderline. As these kayaks really don’t have proper back support the muscles in the groin were working hard to keep the back up and at one point I ended up getting a cramp. As I tried to adjust myself, we almost flipped over! But after about 2 hours of paddling diagonally to the left at all times, in order to not be blown off our course, we reached the harbour. Unpacking the kayak was pretty fun – my money was wet, my passport was wet, my powerbank was fully swimming in water, my clothes & towel soaked. But honestly – we did not even let it bother us and laid it all out at the lodge we stayed the night at and the only real loss was the powerbank that stopped working.
Besides that little mishap (and good arm training) the rest of the Kasama trip went well and as it seems now we will need to go to the immigration office again in a month, hoping to also visit the amazing waterfalls that are located close by.
Coming back to the project: I am looking forward to seeing how both we and all the volunteers continue to grow as people, all the while sharing our knowledge, experience and worldviews with Zambians…