Saturday, 21 January 2012

First Impressions

After a week in the Skillshare International Guesthouse in Mbabane, Hannah, Nazia, and I have now settled down in our flat in Manzini - have had the first induction day at our placement, and are now tasking ourselves with finding our way around the city and attempting to stay within the allowance that we are provided with before starting work properly on Monday. The guesthouse is spacious and fairly modern, and well beyond anything that we could possibly have been expecting as we approached and prepared for it. On the outskirts of Mbabane, it is either an hour's walk or a short combi ride to the centre (await a separate post on the experience of combis later on), and we went into the centre several times throughout. Manzini, where we are now, is much louder and more bustling, but still goes incredibly quiet at night and it is best to stay inside.

Now we are settled, I should be in a position to post more on our time here and different aspects of what we have discovered. Characteristically, my laptop has broken now that we have found a ready source of wifi (a pizza place, apparently the 'fastest wifi in Manzini') and so I'll have to go for now.

Best wishes to everyone :)

Friday, 6 January 2012


Have you heard of the International Citizen Service? Backed by DFID, and conducted with six partner organisations, it is currently in its pilot year sending young British people on three and six-month development projects in poorer countries. Having successfully gained a place on the scheme, undergone a three-day residential training placement and had my arm treated like a pin-cushion, next Wednesday I'm going off to Manzini, Swaziland, to work for twelve weeks with SWAGAA, an NGO which seeks to 'decrease abuse, particularly physical and sexual abuse against women and children by implementing education, counselling and advocacy activities'.

I'm writing this short-term blog for two reasons. First, before I applied for my placement with Skillshare International, one of the first things that I did was to scour the Internet for information about what my time abroad may be like, and what other volunteers feel they have contributed, and gained themselves, from the experience. Because the scheme is in its early steps, and on the assumption that I will manage to keep it better than any diary I've ever attempted, I hope that this record will be of use to people thinking of applying in future, or to people interested in Swaziland generally. The second reason is, for my friends and family, to avoid repeated Facebook statuses along the lines of 'in Swaziland now, yaay!' or essays that appear in News Feeds whether people would like them to or not.

Therefore, in time, I'll blog about the training days that passed, my preparations, placement and accommodation in Manzini. I hope it's of some use and interest.

For anyone curious, the 'Asambeni' part of the blog's title is SiSwati for 'Let's Go!', which now, five days before I leave, makes up one of four phrases that I know.