If you are looking for adventure at every turn, an opportunity to challenge and develop yourself while making an impact to the lives of people in need, and meeting an array of likeminded, inspiring people, I recommend a Raleigh expedition. I signed up for a volunteer manager, communications officer position in Tanzania, Autumn 2017, and can safely say it was one of the best decisions I ever made. Disillusioned with London’s 9 to 5 cyclical and monotonous lifestyle, I hoped to immerse into a reality far different from my own, on the promise of gaining a perspective into a new style of living and working, while adopting and promoting the idea of being a global active citizen; experiencing, learning and making a difference somewhere other than my immediate surroundings. With Raleigh, you integrate with rural communities, living with host families and working with community members on projects geared towards sustainable development through young people, benefiting the communities who have a say and are actively involved in the Raleigh operations from the start.
The community members I met were incredibly welcoming and generous, eager to share what little they had contributing to the experience of feeling like having a home away from home and re-enforcing the spirit of placing human relationships at the heart of priorities, something I gladly re-discovered and wholeheartedly embraced; against the backdrop of rural simplicity, I was humbled and grateful for such an experience. On top of this you live and work in teams of fellow volunteers from all over the world, including host country volunteers.
In Tanzania, Raleigh concurrently run water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects based around schools that are severely lacking in sanitation facilities and practice awareness and natural resource management (NRM) projects focusing on conservation of forests and other natural areas, which are also livelihoods, crucial to economic growth. Additionally, you have a chance to embark on an adventure phase based around developing youth leadership, which involves a 19-day trek through rural Iringa, passing remote, unexplored, continuously diverse and breath-taking areas of Tanzania’s Southern Highlands, a highlight of which includes a safari day through Ruaha National Park, and a chance at a close-up experience of Tanzania’s wildlife.
Expedition is challenging and that is one of its best traits. You should be open minded and adaptable as the conditions will not be something you are used to. Once I overcame the challenges, I felt empowered, my confidence built, I found out I was tougher than I knew and ready to face the future with a newfound resilience and determination, all inspired by my three months with Raleigh. I took away all the above as well as the best of friendships and memories shared with people that inspired and challenged me every day. There aren’t enough words or descriptions that will do the experience justice, and that is the point. It is up to every individual to go out, step away from comfort and familiarity and make it their own.