Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Zaakira's experience: From Yendi to Sandema

When I was selected by ICS, I continually asked myself “how will I deal with this?” When hearing I was placed in Sandema I still continued to doubt myself. The challenge ahead seemed like something I might not be ready for. I have left home before, but never for this length of time - A daunting thought.  Then I start investigating if people had ever heard of this place called Sandema. Everyone had the same story to tell; “Sandema is very nice, and incredibly peaceful”. It wasn’t until I came to know this that my doubtful thoughts disappeared. Then I advised myself not to do the investigating anymore, I will get to know more for myself when I reach there. I had a new wave of confidence and I became to feel excited. The day we started our journey, everything seemed very tense until reaching Sandema. Our host mother welcomed us respectfully, and took our bags inside the house for us. She was so warm and welcoming, and I soon realized the benefits of this experience. It wasn’t long until I started to learn a lot about other people’s culture, thanks to the help of my new host family and my UK counter-part Megan.
My host mother Madam Diana, a friendly stranger, my UKV sister Megan and I attending a teachers vacation party in the community. 

It is never an easy thing to leave your home town and go to another place whilst staying with people you don’t know and have never met before. It is really fortunate that my host family are like my real family, my host parents are like my own parents. Because of this, I never feel down or uncomfortable at my host home. I am always happy and tend to feel like I am at my real home. In fact, we communicate, solve any minor problems together and do a lot of things just as a normal family would. I feel so blessed with the host family I have been given.

I am a Muslim, and as a Muslim there are some things we don’t eat. The host mother knows what is good for me to eat, as well as what I cannot. I cannot eat all of the meat that you may find others here in Sandema eating. For example, I cannot eat pig (pork), dog, or cat. But this has never been an issue I needed to raise. I am not the first Muslim she has hosted, and I probably won’t be the last. The food is very delicious. My favorite food is rice balls with groundnut soup. I also really enjoy rice with vegetable stew. In my own house the food is different. Cooking techniques vary a lot and so, even for an in country volunteer like myself, dinner time can be a novel experience. All in all, I am incredibly happy with my placement. It feels like home sweet home, with the exception of my parents and siblings, whom I miss dearly.

Frankly speaking, it is a good idea that ICS is here for young people, like myself. It is really helping us to build our confidence. Even though we are mixed with university graduates, and some of us are only senior high school graduates, we are given the same opportunities and experiences, and treated as equals. The benefit of this is that my skills are developing every day and I am constantly learning so much from the people around me. Looking to the future, I hope to get another chance after this one to build my confidence even more. The more you put into your ICS experience, the more you learn, and therefore I strive to be a team leader one day.

Written by Tungteeya Zaakira Abdulai, ICV on the L.I.F.E Project, Sandema

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