31st October 2018 by Ben Greeves
Kate Flanagan and the other Raleigh volunteers embarked on their journey with the goal of making a difference. Each individual came with their own aspirations but, together, they formed a formidable team who were able to deliver something amazing … something that has the potential to make a real difference to those involved. By taking the time to listen, ask questions and work in partnership with the people of Msunjilile, the Raleigh volunteers delivered a project that could empower all those involved.
As Kate says ‘Individuals have power but when these individuals unite as a team remarkable things can happen!’ It is this ethos that we both admire and follow here at InterComm.
We are immensely proud to have sponsored Kate on her Raleigh adventure. We have really enjoyed following the team’s progress through these blogs – and we hope you have too.
Well done to all the Raleigh volunteers!
Upon returning home I found it very difficult to assimilate back into UK life. After living such a highly-charged and fulfilling three months, life back home in cold England seemed rather empty. I found it difficult to summarise the range of experiences, challenges and emotions when asked the sweeping question of ‘How was Tanzania?’ I usually wanted to say so much that I would end up saying nothing really at all, opting for answers such as ‘incredible’ or ‘inspiring’. Those single words, as great as they are, cannot do the rewarding experience justice. In fact, I have struggled to find any combination of words that truly captures how I felt and feel now.
I was so fortunate to live within a community such as Msunjilile. I experienced not just the abject poverty and real potential for a sustainable development project but also the beauty of life there – the friendships, singing, dancing and laughing. It was, despite everything, a place that never felt alien, a place I did not have to be brave to visit, but a human place that became my home with real people and real problems.
Since my return many people have asked, ‘Do you think you made a difference?’ I would answer yes, I really think we did. The nuances and challenges of such a project cannot be ignored. What we did was limited in its outreach and in just three months we could not encourage an entire community to alter their existing water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) behavioural practices. Yet despite the limitations we sparked a process of change with a long-term view of sustainability. The school now has far improved toilet facilities that will make a real and positive difference to the everyday lives of its students. The children of the community have energetically taken up new knowledge on a range of issues from handwashing to menstrual hygiene management and the youth, women and elders, who we met through our mobilisation meetings, have also been empowered with that knowledge. We reached hundreds of people at our Action Days and at the Opening Ceremony of the new toilets. Raleigh International will continue to monitor progress in Msunjilile, including the operation and maintenance of the new school facilities. There has been real empowerment of individuals and it is those empowered people who can create change. The ripple effect has begun and I am thrilled to have been part of that.
This leaves me with just one more thing to say. Individuals have a lot of power. When those powerful and motivated individuals unite with common goals, remarkable things can happen. Our international team of Tanzanian and UK volunteers is a testament to that. The process of inspiring and generating change cannot only happen at a governmental or institutional level. Those of us fortunate enough to frequently take our rights for granted must remember the responsibility that comes with that. A vast array of issues, from humanitarian to environmental, exist both overseas and here in the UK. We must all make individual efforts to live consciously and to genuinely care about making a difference in the lives of those with whom we share this beautiful planet.
Change starts with all of us. Who’s with me?