Friday, 21 December 2007

Well, we arrived safe and sound on UK soil last week and I must say I became hysterically excited! The Nigerians had their hat, scarves and gloves on when we'd only been flying 10 minutes. It was rather sweet. The UK volunteers made the most of the free alcohol on the flight and got rather tipsy, but no-one got injured or maimed, so all was well.

We had a few days training in London and showing the Nigerians around London was great fun. I think Fola was a bit awe struck - but I can remember feeling the same when I first went to London! We came to brighton last saturday and I really love it here. It's such a great place! Diane and I have been placed with a reallly lovely family and I feel very lucky indeed. We have two twin host brothers who are aged 5 and abolsultely adorable!! Our host parents - Jonothan and Rachel have really made us feel at home and I know the next 3 months will be a blast!

I have been placed to work in a youth advocacy project with my work counterpart Sabiu. We get along great and the work placement sounds very interesting and we can't wait to get stuck in after Xmas!

I can't wait to go home tomorrow to spend Christmas with Diane and my family. Its certainly going to be a different Christmas, but I know it will also be very special.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

This past week has been the busiest and best we’ve had on GX so far! On Saturday the 1st of December we celebrated World Aids Day with the youths of our implementing partner NACWYCA. We all mounted two pick up trucks and drove through Lafia giving out free condoms. We had a band playing on one of the trucks so we got a lot of attention! We drove to a junction town where many truckers go to use prostitutes and therefore the rate of HIV is high in these towns. NACWYCA were offering free status checks so people could test whether they had HIV. I spoke to a guy who’d tested positive and it was a profound moment. A persons life can change course in an instant and it made me realise how fragile our lives really are.

We gave out condoms in that village and I described to a big group of guys how the should use a condom. One guy remarked that he's been told that condoms were full of holes and therefore don't work. It just goes to show that educating people goes a long way in dispelling these kinds of myths.

Then on Sunday we went to a waterfall named Ferin Ruwa which is the 2nd tallest waterfall ion Nigeria. We drove along a very bad road for what seemed like forever and through typical African villages to get to our destination. The walk to the waterfall was lovely - through bush along a rough road. When we got there it was truly spectacular. The falls were so high you couldn't see the top from the bottom. The water was running dangerously fast and it was just a once in a lifetime experience. We climbed rocks so we could see the plunge pool half way up the falls (and believe me if mum had seen me climb the rocks she may have had a heart attack!) we were like spider men! I hope my disposable camera pics do it justice.

Then on Monday we celebrated World Disability day. We prepared for 50 people both disabled and able bodied turing up. The bus we hired had to make 5 journeys to get everyone there. In the end we had over 80 disabled people in our hall! It was great that so many came, but also highlighted that this had never happened before. They brought up important issues that we will raise in local government. We did invite policy makers, but none showed up. Two representatives from each disabled group also agreed to meet Saturday to set up a social club for the disabled. I really feel like we achieved something and it was a great day.

The Yesterday we celebrated International Volunteering Day by doing a skill acquisition day and by paiting the walls of our implementing partners NACWYCA who are an NGO. It was a good day and I got stuck inot the painting!

This will probably be my last blog entry in Lafia as we fly back to the UK next week. I have learned so much since being here and much of it I won't realise until I get home. I have met some truly amazing people that have really touched me. I won't ever forget this experience and the good news is that it's not over yet!

Until the UK folks ........