In a few days’ time, our intrepid gap year volunteers, Mary and Chris, set off on their journeys to Nicaragua and Zimbabwe.
But this will be no holiday for them. In both countries they will see the work of CAFOD partners as they work on the ground. Chris and Mary, along with the other members of the Step into the Gap Team, have been working with young people in this country to share their faith in different settings.
Just before they had finished packing, John dropped in to see them at the Hexham & Newcastle Youth Village just outside Consett.
Mary flies from London to Dubai then on to Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe. Chris heads in the opposite direction, leaving London to cross the Atlantic to Miami before flying to Managua in Nicaragua.
They are both fully aware that accommodation won’t be five-star (and the flights aren’t First Class either) – Chris will be putting his sleeping bag and mosquito net to use on some nights!
Mary will visit programmes which are focused on making sure communities have enough food to eat and are able to make a living. She will also be visiting projects which help people living with HIV/AIDS.
Meanwhile in Nicaragua, Chris and his colleagues will be travelling to meet partners who help women farmers to develop technical skills, and other groups which train communities in the steps to take in the event of an emergency such as volcanoes or earthquakes. As with any trip abroad, there will be many more adventures that don’t appear on the itinerary.
So what of their personal feelings prior to the trip? Both admitted to wanting to avoid any illness. More to not wanting to miss out, than anything life-threatening. With a limited time in each country, the last thing either want to be doing is to be out of action, even for a day. Mary is a vegetarian and this can be seen as out of the ordinary in some cultures.
Both have visited countries in the global south before, so they might be thought to be more prepared than most for what they’ll find. It’ll be interesting to see how their previous experiences colour what they’ll see on this trip.
As far as other preparations go, they have both read the Lonely Planet guides to the respective countries, got their inoculations and mosquito nets. They are raring to go!
We are hoping to get some blogs from Zimbabwe and Nicaragua dependent upon having all the technology lined up, so we’ll post anything we get as soon as it arrives.