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.