This article was originally posted on CICD Volunteering Africa.
MY STORY AND I AT CICD
I am David Christian, from Rochdale near Manchester. I was a DI at CICD —the 14 months DI programme, in March 2011. The project was at One World University in Mozambique, where my main tasks were the library, promotion and teaching English. My first experience in a developing country; the challenges were motivating the students, communicating in Portuguese, plus coping with the lack of running water, electricity and the comfort of my old life. This is what I wanted, to change myself in this aspect; no longer remaining in my comfort zone and to be ready to face these difficulties millions of people live daily.
I returned to CICD and joined the Fighting with The Poor 24 months programme. I returned to Africa —DNS in Mkushi, Zambia, working in partnership— helping with the expansion of the college. Not an easy task visiting many companies for sponsorship; but from my experience in fundraising, you have to keep going until you achieve something. From my African experiences, I didn’t try to change the world, but to change some people’s lives and I’m happy I achieved that.
WHY I JOINED RICHMOND VALE ACADEMY (RVA)
I am very aware of what we are doing to our planet. We need to do something about it; this planet doesn’t need us, we need it! I went to our sister school RVA, in the Caribbean country Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), for the Climate Compliance Conference (CCC) programme. Therefore, I wanted to learn much more about climate change issues and how we can fight it.
THE IDEA BEHIND THE CCC PROGRAMME
It started in 2012 in response to recent disasters SVG faced. These included Hurricane Tomas in 2010, which caused millions of pounds in damage to agriculture; as well as businesses and households. A 10 year project aimed at making SVG one of the world’s first climate compliant nations. This programme aims to raise awareness about the dangers of climate change and what steps we need to take to fight it. It’s not just about educating and mobilising people, but ourselves too.
Saving up for the programme and travel and other expenses was a necessity. I got to work for Torben and Birgit’s Planet Aid at their second-hand clothes and shoes shops. I spent 3 weeks in Northampton, where I learned about pricing and working with clothes. Despite several or so years in retail, this area was new to me. I continued for the next 4 months at another shop in Washington. To cut costs, I found cheaper or free accommodation from couch surfing to asking around.
MY 6 MONTHS
In November 2014, I joined a team of 8 people including Shinichi, a DI at CICD some years ago. We spent these 6 months working on various tasks and projects —organic gardening; beach clean ups; tree planting; Open Days; college projects such as biogas. My team also taught at schools about eating healthily; my personal project was teaching school children about GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) and reaching out to people about what we do at the academy through radio. We also did studies about different issues related to climate change —pollution; deforestation; the Gaia Theory.
EXPERIENCES I FOUND GREAT AND DIFFICULT
I loved working with my team, as well as the other students and teachers and the public —to share and collaborate in connection to what we were aiming to achieve in this country as well as the planet. It was also great to learn so much more about the causes and solutions to climate change —no matter your age and experiences, it’s never too late to continue learning. The difficulties were mobilising the people, as their culture is very different from ours: time keeping in SVG is similar to what I experienced in Africa —if you organise, say a beach clean up and set a time, for example 12 pm, the locals tend to be late and it’s this kind of obstacle you have to overcome and at the same time adapt yourself to this, instead of allowing it to frustrate you.
MY WORK IN THE HIKING CENTRE
After the programme, I didn’t want to leave and got the change to work at the hiking centre, which is part of RVA. This is another way RVA raises money to support the projects we do here. We offer our guests nature trails including the 1,23m high La Soufrière volcano, waterfalls, horsemanship lessons and diving courses. Many of our guests find this place very unique to other hotels in SVG and worldwide as we’re very eco-friendly and the guests also have the change interact with our students and have the option to eat organic food, most of which is grown in our garden.
3 EXAMPLES OF HOW RVA’S WORK HELPS LOCAL COMMUNITIES
- Creating awareness and collaborating with the locals and other organisations to help them be ready for tackling climate change with our actions and projects. We also invite various organisations and schools to visit our academy so they see what we do.
- RVA also buys local produce when possible, rather than from the supermarkets where there are a lot of imported products, mainly from the US and Europe. We also employ locals to work at the academy —maintenance, gardening, cleaning and more.
- There is also a one month CCC programme for Vincentians (Vincy) to join —this way they have the change to learn and to be part of what the international students have come here for. The Vincy students can leave with the knowledge and empowerment they can use to teach their families and communities.
DREAM. DECIDE. DEVELOP. DO