Being a TL is a challenging role no doubt. But with all challenges there are rewards and lessons to be learnt. My journey to become a TL began over a year ago when I became a ICS volunteer for Raleigh International in Tanzania working with young potential business owners and seeing first hand the change a small group of young people could make. It was my passion to continue leading this drive of youth and active citizenship in Africa.
The ICS programme has a strong set of values. To me the ICS programme stands out from all other aid and development programme. The key areas that make it unique is the use and focus on youth led change and the creation of global citizens through UK volunteers working in pairs with in-country volunteers. In the short time I have been in Accra, Ghana I have seen great bonds being created and cultures shared including both (Ghanaian and UK culture nights). The ICS programme stands for change through the sharing of knowledge and aims to be sustainable where the people supported are then able to support themselves and continue sharing the knowledge further and wider (compare this to giving someone money! A process of development still used by many governments and charitable organizations).
Visiting the businesses and host homes has made it clear the progress volunteers make on this project. The feedback from the enterprises we work with has been amazing and they really understand and appreciate the role of the volunteers as Junior Consultants. Volunteers have already been putting forward ideas to businesses such as Norte Drinks (led by Clara) where new locations for selling their nutritious Ghanaian-made Sobolo drinks are being planned and trialed.
When I embarked on this journey I thought that I was going to share a lot of knowledge, skills and experiences with the volunteers. However, I have also learnt a lot from them in the short amount of time we have been here. From the passion and persuasive techniques used during Active Citizenship debates. To volunteers commitment to go beyond their role. I have seen volunteers come out of their shell and co-operate across cultures. It has inspired me that youth are a tool for change and that no matter where you are in life there is always things to learn from one another regardless of culture, education or personality.
The TL role on the Challenges Worldwide journey is not conducted alone. As a TL you have a counterpart pair (One UK volunteer and one in country volunteer). For me as a UK volunteer, my in-country counterpart has been Raphael Somaila Ibrahim. Since meeting we hit off our leadership relationship while singing Bob Marley and him teaching me how to hand wash clothes effectively. By working as one unit we have been able to lead the team effectively and it is no question that problems as a TL arise. However, it is the core ICS principles of flexibility and adaptability alongside a positive and realistic commitment to the programme we continue to work strongly together in the interest of our volunteers, the most passionate and caring set of young people I have ever met.
The role of the TL is a great stepping stone for anyone who would like to work in the field of International Development, volunteering or supporting youth. I have learnt how to adapt to new environments and seen first hand the issues that reduce effective development. I have also learnt how to lead teams (it’s in the roles name!). Lastly I know that working with passionate young people will be useful in the future and has helped me understand the best ways to support them and to get the best out of them in short period of time. I aim to continue my career in the International Development field and I recommend becoming a Team Leader for anyone who also shares the same goals! You won’t regret it!