Having sat through hours and hours of PowerPoint based training in the RAF, I was a little nervous of what three full days of pre-departure training might entail. But I was very pleasantly surprised – not a PowerPoint in sight, although there were a couple of slightly cringe-worthy ‘energisers’. The trainers were lovely and really knew their stuff. I think the highlight of my weekend must have been the faces of some of the volunteers during the medical brief – utter horror and disgust!
The volunteers are an amazing bunch. They are a really diverse group but all enthusiastic and committed to the programme. Only four are actually going to be on my team in Bangladesh but it was great to meet most of the other Bangladesh team as well as the other country volunteers. I’m really looking forward to working with them over the next four months – handy, really – but the team won’t be complete until we are in Dhaka with our Bangladeshi counterparts.
I instantly clicked with the other two team leaders – one going to Kenya and other to Cambodia. We all come from very different backgrounds but all got on so well. It turns out we have the same hopes and fears of what we are getting into. Which was perfect, as I spent a good chunk of the weekend in classic ‘me’ mode, questioning whether I was going to be any good as a team leader!
So there are now less than four weeks until I fly out to Dhaka, and only the minor issue of my visa left to sort out. I can’t believe how quickly the time is flying by – I’m not entirely sure the reality of it all has hit home yet, although the nerves are definitely starting to build. I’ve been really impressed with VSO so I know I’m going to be in good hands. We received our project briefings today so I know a lot more about the community I’ll be staying in – I’m relieved that all host homes at least have electricity and indoor toilets! I’m so excited about the project, which is focused on poor or marginalised young women and socially excluded youth from the villages; it sounds like we will have a lot of scope to shape our work too.
Thanks to the amazing generosity of my friends and family, I have already met my fundraising target but, to quote a well-known supermarket, every little helps. If you would still like to donate, you can do so at my JustGiving page.