In case you missed the previous post, I won a place on the ever Green & Blacks Community Development Programme in the Dominican Republic. I will be part of a team led by Raleigh International charged with the mission to provide clean, safe drinking water to a community of cocoa farmers. The conditions will be basic and the work will be tough but the reward will be immeasurable, knowing that we have made a fundamental contribution to improving the livelihoods of others.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Now I am faced with less than 5 weeks of preparation time to ensure my time spent on expedition is as productive and enjoyable as possible. So I have divided up my prep as follows:
Health and Fitness
Why? This really is a key preparation point. The expedition mission is physical – we need to dig a kilometre of trenches to connect 3 villages to the fresh water source. It is imperative that my body can cope with the manual labour along with coping with the higher temperatures of the Caribbean.
How? Inspired by the lovely Muireann I am going to attempt running. It is free and, hopefully, easy. And I might supplement this with some swimming as our ‘day-off’ on the expedition will be spent White Water Rafting!
Ta Prohm, Angkor, Cambodia
Why? For two weeks I will living with a local family in basic conditions and unfamiliar surroundings and working in foreign climes. It is crucial that I have adequate supplies to make this experience as comfortable as possible.
How? Raleigh International are experts in expeditions abroad and so I will be following their provided kit list closely. At the training day we were provided with some of the essentials already, thanks to Green & Blacks (which I am sure was ploy to test our bicep strength by forcing us to lug it all around London on the public transport network!).
Chiang Mai Blessing Festival, Thailand
Why? We will be guests in the family homes of people with different ways of life. It is crucial that we take the time to get know our DR families and the community. There is undoubtedly a wealth of experience and insight we can learn from spending time with them. I believe it is important to understand the lives of others, noting what we share and discovering where we differ. Immersing oneself in the process of understanding a group of people with a different way of life can often highlight many things about our own perceptions, actions and beliefs.
How? I don’t speak Spanish myself so my communication skills will be limited to charades – it should be interesting. There will be some Spanish speakers in the expedition group so there will the chance to have some translation done, but overall I will be learning by participant observation and physical communication.
Any tips or advice? Have you done anything similar?
I have been travelling several times and carried out fieldwork in Southeast Asia. But this will be the first time I have done such a physical expedition in a rural setting – eeeek! What have I got myself in for?!