It was February and I had just received a beautifully descriptive email from a friend, titled Dusty days in Cambodia. References to dozing on roof terraces, watching families fish and gather lotus plants, and pavements that served as workshops, kitchens AND living rooms made my feet itch. Reading it, I was there in the paddy fields, looking at a sunset with a margarita in hand. In contrast, I was really in bed (a booking had been cancelled), nursing a cup of tea, looking across Gladstone Park filled with its dog turd and tragic lumps of shoveled snow that used to be snow people and feeling very uninspired by what the week had instore for me.
It was in thus position that I saw the advert
“Can you sign well in BSL? Would you like to volunteer in Africa? Do you love children and babies? Then read on…”
And I did…
“We are looking for a volunteer to come as soon as possible with three main purposes:
1) To volunteer at Forever Angels Baby Home and help with all of our
babies and infants in the afternoons.
2) To go to the International School each morning with Leila – to
sign with her and her teachers every day so that she can begin to
access a full learning environment.
3) To work with Leila’s (British) family every week, helping them to
become more fluent in BSL and encouraging their other children to sign”.
I never gave my responding email to Amy (Leila’s adopted Mum) much thought. Now that I’m going, I feel that somehow there should have been a corresponding fanfare as I pressed the send button – at least some flashing lights or round of applause.
“I’m writing in regards to your voluntary position with Leila. I’m very interested and would like some more details. I currently work freelance as a signer and have a level 3 NVQ in BSL. I have been working for over 2 years supporting Deaf Adults and young people in work and education and feel I could have the skills you are looking for. I also have no ties and can leave swiftly as would just need to give notice on my flat. My work I organise myself so there is no notice needed, although I would want to honour the bookings I already have.
Looking forward to your reply”
…stiff right? Sales not a strong point.
What followed was 3 months of very funny emails (I got better), with Amy trying to convince me that it was not as scary in Tanzania as one might think and me trying to persuade her that I was knowledgeable, responsible, hell even witty on occasion and that I was the best person to come out there and work with Leila…
…and somehow that worked!
On the 22nd June, I’m moving to Tanzania.
I think it’s going to be quite something.
PS: Please check out the website http://foreverangels.org/