Hello fellow budget hunters
This is a different sort of informative post – this one is about my experience with ICS, what it is and why you should do it.
Last summer I spent 10 weeks in Tanzania with Raleigh International. Raleigh is a charity working on sustainable development as part of the UK aid. “Raleigh International works to create lasting change through youth. The biggest youth population ever is inheriting a world with huge development challenges. By working side-by-side with communities, young volunteers have the power, energy and positivity to create and deliver solutions.”
I was involved in a Livelihoods project in a rural village called Ndolezi. The village was home to around 3000 people, many of whom were young entrepreneurs. It was also very basic, with having to collect our own water from pumps, no electricity and some new solar street lights being build. With Tanzania’s bottom heavy population (over 80% are under 24) the education we provided was key at helping the entrepreneurs to develop their ideas and passions. We had chicken keepers, animal feed, clothing shops and barbers… Every idea we could imagine was suggested.
We also stayed with a family within the village in homestays, who provided meals for us and really made the experience great. For someone to open their homes to strangers and to care for us the way they did. If you’re from the UK, the realities of long drop toilets and showering from a bucket of water are very far from home.
The group of Raleigh volunteers were made up of 7 UK volunteers and 7 Tanzanian volunteers (and 2 team leaders) so it made the whole dynamic feel less invasive. We also worked on some secondary projects including a huge chalkboard mural, whole village action/sports days and promoting the use of chimneys in the wood fire kitchens. (we were educating on the health risks of smoke inhalation also especially to young children)
The whole project was very much a grassroots funded programme which was more beneficial to the people and one of the government’s aims to avoid corruption. With the small grants offered directly to the entrepreneurs, we bypassed the politics of the local governments.
I would highly recommend this project as unlike alot of other projects, to be involved the cost is only £800 including flights, vaccines, accommodation, food etc and has to be fundraised. There is also lots of choices of ICS partner projects so there is the option to pick one that suits your specific interests. Raleigh offers its ICS in Nepal, Nicaragua and Tanzania but it is only available to those aged 18-25!
The experience can be challenging, tough but also so rewarding. I also met my best friend Betina there and I can’t wait to go back to Tanzania to see her again! To anyone looking for a gap year or summer project I would recommend ICS to everyone!