My VSO-ICS experience

VSO means Voluntary Service Overseas. It is an international development organisation founded in 19 and they have been working in Nigeria since. They run a programme called International Citizen Service (ICS) which is funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). The programme brings together UK volunteers and In-country volunteers to work on a particular. project for 3 months. Applying to be a volunteer for the programme happened weirdly. I saw it about a month before the deadline but forgot all about it till a few days before the deadline. I wasn’t sure it wouldn’t clash with my internship period but I decided to try though. It was a rush filling it during a slow day at work and I had to stay back on the deadline day to scan it in. After submitting it just in time for the deadline I realized  that I had left a particular section blank. I was apprehensive about notifying them but for my mother and my fear of failure and regrets. I did that and they were lenient enough to allow me submit that part. I remember how jittery I felt during the interview over the phone. It was at work and I had to go into the bathroom just to get enough quiet. But the interviewers were fun and made me feel oh so comfortable. Seeing the congratulatory email made it real for me and I started getting scared. I would have to take a leave of absence from work to go for the pre placement training in a city I had never been to. I also then realized that if I took the 3-month opportunity I wouldn’t be able to make my youth service batch and the rumors flying around were that I would have to wait 6 months before I could be re mobilized. Skepticism set in but then it’s me, I love adventure and new experiences and I thought; oh well it’s an all expense paid trip and a chance to finally see Abuja. I went to Abuja and it was an exciting experience, the new volunteers and the returned volunteers and staffs of VSO were so inspiring and motivating. The project was about youth participation in governance and we were going to be the pioneer team in Ikorodu running it and ensuring a sustainable foundation for other cycles to build on. The training programme was different from what I was used to but at the same time very engaging and creative. I decided on the final day of the training that I was going to do this. I was losing 6 months but I did not care because I could see the need for the project. When I was younger, I always wanted to do development work but time and tides changed that. After the training I felt re inspired and I knew that if I did not do this I would always regret the road not travelled. I also wanted to see firsthand if change was possible and be a part of it. My expectations in joining the program were not totally selfless. I also saw it as a way to get valuable skills and work within a cross-cultural team. I also saw this as a chance to finally see if the life of a development worker was for me. I wasn’t going to get paid and the allowance was a fifth of what I would usually spend but as my sister said “put your money where your mouth is”. During the in-country orientation with the UK volunteers, I was really looking forward to my time but also had so many questions. How would it be living in a host home? the host family would be another tribe but did it matter? Would I cope with the food seeing as I am a picky eater. How can I live on the allowance?( I had promised myself I would only take a bank card with a very small fixed amount of money). How would it be without my family who I had never been away from for up to a month at a time? So many questions were running through my head………

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