So I have now passed the half way mark on my volunteering journey and this week was both a brilliant and a tough one…
The week started badly after my host home was treated for bed bugs! I was getting dreadful, swollen bites all over my legs and back, and this was due to an allergic reaction I was having to bites during the night while I slept. The house was treated with insecticide a couple of hours before curfew on Saturday and because of the sheer intensity of it, Emem and I suffered terribly, having breathed in its fumes all night as we slept. Emem had to go to hospital for her breathing and I was nauseous for the whole of the following day.
This dramatic event kickstarted a week of homesickness and a general feeling of anxiety I couldn’t easily shake…
The week improved in several ways. Lovina delivered her personal Community Action Day (CAD) on Child Protection to some of the mothers in the local community which was really enlightening.
I went to work at Adult Literacy again which was great. This was the highlight of my week as usual!
I had my second one-to-one meeting with my team leader, Dav. We have three of them in total throughout the cycle – one after we arrive in community, one at the mid point, and one at Debrief at the end. We have them so that team leaders can determine how we are getting along on the programme, in our host homes, with our counterparts etc., and also to log our personal development. Personal Development is the number one priority on ICS, so they like us to create goals for ourselves and specific action points so that we can achieve those goals by the end of the cycle.
If you choose to do ICS you will find that you learn a LOT about yourself. I felt like I knew my strengths and weaknesses quite well before I came, but I have also discovered strengths I didn’t know I had, and I’ve found areas that I want to work on further, even after I am done with ICS.
Emem and Ozindu had their own personal CAD on Thursday 28 July – World Hepatitis Day. They decided to do a rally so we made signs and got a megaphone and played music to get the attention of the community and raise awareness of the disease. I learned a lot, actually. I didn’t realise that there was a Hepatitis D as well as A, B and C. I also didn’t know the severity of it and how easily it can be contracted. You can transmit Hepatitis even through sweat – so you have to be careful in crowded places where you may be pressed up against people’s skin. Hepatitis destroys the liver if untreated so it’s really important to encourage people in these communities to get tested and get vaccinated against it.
My anxiety and homesickness totally took over this day. From the moment I woke up until the moment my head hit the pillow I didn’t feel myself and I was on edge and tearful. The fact that the wifi I had the luxury of using previously had stopped working, so I hadn’t been able to contact my family in a week or two, did not help matters. I think if I’d been able to call home after getting sick at the beginning of the week, I would have felt a LOT better. Alas, I had to carry on.
At the end of the week we all had a well deserved break and went for Mid Phase Review! This happens at the half way point of the cycle and the team goes out of community to spend the weekend having fun and taking a break from work. We also have to complete sessions to determine what we have learned so far on the cycle, the problems we have faced and how we can improve our team work for the remainder of our time here.
We went to a place called Ibadan which was about a 3 hour drive from Ikorodu. We were supposed to stay in a bungalow for the weekend, however it needed repairing so we had to stay in a hotel instead. We joked that one of the other Nigerian teams had trashed it the previous weekend on their MPR so we couldn’t stay there!
The hotel we stayed in was really nice – the beds were HUGE and there was electricity which was such a luxury. They also gave us the most incredible tasting egg for breakfast. I believe it’s called egg sauce – it’s cooked in tomatoes and pepper (chili) and served with boiled yam or bread. DELICIOUS.
MPR was great fun, and definitely the break I needed. We all wore our Ankara during the day, went shopping, saw some amazing artwork and ate lots of chocolate! The weekend was also spent celebrating Sam’s 21st birthday! We bought him a flashing sash with 21 on it, cake and balloons and had a party.
We were all so sad to go back to community afterwards! We’d had such a nice time partying and relaxing, it was strange to go back home and get back to work…
Stay tuned for more updates over the next week!