Voluntary Service Overseas!

Since January, as well as preparing for the Book Bus venture in Zambia, I have been exploring further possibilities for educational work in developing countries.

Having applied for consideration by VSO  I was called down to their London headquarters for a day of  fun and games (the interview procedure). Actually it was very thorough, a combination of  a an in-depth 1:1 interview with a whole range of role play scenarios just like a headship interview actually!

Following my acceptance I have been engaged in ongoing online training and  took part in an intensive  three-day residential course in Birmingham – lots more role play!  However we did get let out for good behaviour on the sunday night and having gate crashed the quiz night at the local pub, picked up first prize – a gallon of beer which of course we had to drink before leaving!

Over the last 3 weeks I’ve been considering the offer of a short term placement in Rwanda and today I’ve finally taken the plunge and accepted. All things being equal, I will be taking up the position of educational manager from September 4th and will be out there until just before Christmas.

The role involves supporting the development of the headteacher and staff in two rural schools. I will need to visit the schools daily and because of their remote location it will involve an exhilarating ride  along dirt tracks on the back of a motorbike taxi!

Accommodation, in the small township of Nyakarambi, will be basic, and this was the aspect that caused me to deliberate for so long. There will be no mains electricity or water and the height of luxury is a bucket shower (water delivered from the well by local boys on their bikes) and a pit latrine! However I have been in contact with three VSO  volunteers who have worked and lived in the same area, who have survived to tell the tale, and they have been very reassuring.

Rwanda, of course, has a devastating recent history but with a guilty international community pumping in lots of aid, has made great strides towards recovery over the last ten years. It is quite exciting to think I might, in some small way be part of that process.

VSO ask their volunteers to publicise the work they do and to try to raise £900 for the charity. Many friends and colleagues have already been very generous in supporting my Book Bus venture in Zambia but if you feel able to give a little more , not to fund me directly but to support the great work that VSO are involved in please visit: http://wwwjustgiving.com/Phil-Aldridge where you can find out more and perhaps make a small donation.      


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