Written by Marte Kvam Eide
We had our first social arranged event on Saturday, where the social committee had arranged for us to visit Mundawanga, a zoo with a park and BBQ area. We arrived before midday and grabbed a nice BBQ spot, for lunch we had brought various food to prepare and refreshments to keep us cool. Countless hours were spent sunbathing, playing football, chatting, grilling and just generally having a good time! It was the first relaxing day many of us could truly enjoy in a long time, and spending it together further strengthened our bond and unity.
After lunch we took a walk around the zoo area where we could observe many different animals from the majestic lions to the elegant peacocks. There was also a huge pool that we had planned to enjoy, but since it was a Saturday it was already filled up to its full capacity by playing, laughing children and adults, so we returned to our previous BBQ spot for some more relaxation before departing. The day concluded with the Rugby World Cup Finals, a magnificent match between New Zealand and Australia. We were allowed an extended curfew time in order to watch the match from a fully packed sports bar which was an enjoyable end to the day.
Sunday morning came soon enough, and with it, wedding day! Our lovely, generous host family had previously invited all of the UK and Zambian volunteers to come along to the reception of the wedding of their cousin and his spouse. The reception was decorated in pink and bows, with a special seating section for the newlyweds and plenty of floor space for dancing. It started in Zambian fashion after schedule late into the afternoon, but the wait for the newlyweds was not for wain. They did not enter hand in hand as one might expect, but rather danced their way into the wedding reception, not together but with their respective bridesmaids and groomsmen. That was quite an experience watching them dance their way in to African rhythms and applause, the bride later confessed to me that most of the dance moves were pure improvisation which was impressive considering how coordinated they seemed.
Later on we all had some delicious traditional Zambian food from the buffet table, before it was out to the dance floor for some fun until the late hours! We were lucky enough to participate in this experience and it was a great finale to a wonderful weekend.
A big part of our experience here is to get to know the other volunteers and to bond with each other despite of our differences, cultural challenges and varied backgrounds. This often happens over social activities such as the ones we had in the weekend just described, but more often it happens in unexpected, more natural ways. Moments that we will look back at tomorrow or in a week or even in January when our placements have long finished. Moments we will remember and that we will know made a difference. Like when you share a taxi with a group of fellow volunteers and the lack of space makes you physically much closer than you have ever been before – it does not seem that difficult to continue an everyday conversation with them after that. Or the moment that you realize you laugh of the same things, of the same bad jokes, of the same funny dance moves – and you understand that you do not always need to come from the same place to have the same sense of humour. Or when you find yourself being ill while staying in someone else’s house – just to find comfort in knowing that your fellow volunteer sister or brother is there for you. Even if we are lucky enough to stay in great host homes, we are all away from our homes no matter how close or far away they may seem. And there is a special bond created from those who take care each other in moments of need. Words are not always needed, as much as small gestures of kindness and love. We all need each other at some point, no matter how hard it may be to admit. We are family after all. And this family will continue to grow, in both social settings and on personal levels beyond measure. We are all on an undefinable journey and tomorrow is just another day for us to explore.