Primarily, to embrace it, to make the best of it because it does go quickly. Be open minded and flexible because you gain so much more perspective on people and situations when you really give yourself the chance to understand them. Be brave in the face of challenges; overcoming them is the best feeling.
There was no average day or week; it is fast paced and easy to love. Coming into contact, first person, with the work Raleigh does and everyone involved and facing the enormous responsibility I had to contribute to its success was such a driving force to my focus.
I was primarily at field base (which boasted an impressive backdrop of a cluster of mountains behind it, which you can explore) as a communications officer, turning content into blog posts about the expedition, which had a flexible 9 to 5 framework, and the nature of the work required me to travel to projects for days in order to collect material from communities and the volunteers.
I saw a lot of the country, I visited all the projects and it was adventure at every turn, changing according to requirements, always offering opportunities explore and learn while making an active difference.
My biggest concern was immersion and seeing poverty to such a degree that it would make me miserable and angry, and I would take that back at the end of the program somehow.
My assumptions were dissolved when I was welcomed into the homes of people who were happy and eager to share what little they had. There was no misery and no anger, just an incredible focus on generosity and amenability, which was profoundly humbling. I gained perspective on this way of living, which I admire and value, because I stepped out and chose to see and experience it for myself.
I can share one memory that I will never forget, not because it was inspiring or life-changing, but actually on the account of how much I laughed at that moment. I went on a project support visit with some fellow volunteers to a village called Iyegeya, in the district of Mufindi, located around 1600 meters altitude. It's quaint but surrounded by really breathtaking landscapes.
At our homestay, on the first night, we were welcomed by the baba (father) and mama with a nice meal of wali na maragi (rice and beans), after which we stayed up fairly late working in the living area. At around 11 pm, our hosts began playing this tune, from their room next door, which I can only really describe as a mixture between some horrendous game show theme and Mario Kart music. On a loop. For what turned out to be the whole night.
We didn't know why or what, but rather ironically, we didn't want to disturb or impose on our hosts. So instead, as we lay on the mattresses on the floor, curled up in our sleeping bags and before putting on our headphones for the night, to drown out the sound, we cried with laughter at how absurd, after a long and draining day of work, this whole situation and choice of playing music was. The next day we asked our baba what was up with it, and he just shrugged, smiled and went, "I like music."
He didn't play it again the next night, but all the way to the end of the expedition we recalled it and still laughed our heads off.