Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Liz tackles life-changing Africa trip

The International Citizen Service (ICS) is a UK government-funded development programme that brings together 18 to 25-year-olds from all backgrounds to fight poverty in overseas and UK communities.

Event Management student Liz Brunold recently undertook an ICS placement in Zimbabwe, where she worked for the Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) charity which aims to teach people about sexual reproductive health.

Liz travelled to Tsanzaguru on the outskirts of Rusape, Zimbabwe, to work in a team of four at a sexual health clinic.

She commented: "We facilitated sessions with young mums and the youth of Tsanzaguru. Many of the people who turned up to our sessions were HIV positive and many were often too scared to be tested for HIV at all, so we offered them support and taught them about child rights, HIV/AIDS, STIs and empowerment of women.

"Whilst I was out there I lived with in Tsanzaguru with the Venge family. They were more than welcoming to me and made me feel like I was part of the family and truly treated me as their own. I wouldn't have changed a minute of living with them and still speak to them every day."

Liz embarked on the trip expecting to have nothing in common with the people she met, but quickly noticed many similarities.

"It's crazy how alike you are - if you take away the upbringing and surroundings we all have the same issues; money, partners, bills, jobs and so on," said Liz. "I also enjoyed becoming a part of the community and everyone becoming a friend. The culture is so different and a shock when you first get there, but then it becomes normal and moving back to England becomes the culture shock.

"The experience gave me a greater understanding of the different cultures in the world, and how unaware we are of how the other half live. It's easy for us to send food and presents over to the Third World, but that work actually does nothing - the people want to be taught how to do things and make connections with others.

"I would without a doubt recommend ICS to anybody interested in experiencing a new culture in a way that many people wouldn't be able to. It's extremely nerve-racking, but after a day you forget what you were worrying about. It was the best experience I've ever had."

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