Thanks for the memories: My Raleigh International experience
Wide-eyed and keen, with my large rucksack tightly full of my mess tin, insect-repellent and lengthy johns, I arrived in Bangalore, South India in January 2011 for a 10-week journey with Raleigh Worldwide.
Little did I do know that I used to be about to achieve love, life expertise and life-long friendships.
In 2010, graduates like me had been struggling to land jobs post-university. Aiming to supply work and life expertise, the journey charity – whose alumni I knew included Prince William and Kate Middleton – had launched a bursary programme for folks like me.
So I used to be one of many early-twentysomethings, with no profession to name my very own, who had jumped on the alternative to fundraise for the journey – earlier than flying solo to India. Right here I’d spend one of the best a part of three months making new mates and attempting one thing completely new.
I really managed to increase it to almost six months away, spending the final shreds of my scholar checking account – and cash raised from summer season jobs – to go to extra of India, Bali, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia.
Raleigh’s 11A dispatch (large cheer, please) to Bangalore included a trio of three-week-long sections – a neighborhood mission, an environmental mission and a gruelling 200km Western Ghats trek in blistering warmth with our tents and meals piled into our backpacks.
Whereas many naive children head off on hole years pondering they’re going there to rework the area people, I rapidly had a pointy dose of actuality as I realised that will not be the case.
The primary mission – digging trenches round crop fields to cease elephants getting in – precipitated a crowd of native folks to collect day by day to chortle (good naturedly) at how horrible we had been at this guide work.
On the neighborhood mission, we helped construct bogs, which was really fairly transformative for that village – particularly for the ladies, who beforehand needed to wait till darkish to go to outdoors, risking their well being, snake assaults or sexual assault.
So possibly we did make a little bit of a distinction.
The expertise taught me loads in regards to the notion of “Sort two enjoyable” the place you discover one thing laborious on the time, however retrospectively cherish the reminiscences.
It was additionally a fantastic alternative to get away from our telephones (we needed to hand them in) and have a post-finals alcohol detox (we weren’t allowed to drink).
Some low moments of the journey embody having to at all times use a protracted drop (an enormous gap purporting to be a toilet) – for those who had been additional fortunate, you’d be the one digging it for the camp. Additionally strolling 200km in sweltering warmth whereas by no means accessing a bathe – and if you had been in a position to wash in a river, us ladies having to take action in garments that coated us to elbow and knee. It was definitely a actuality examine by way of the privilege of my life up to now.
Standout joyful reminiscences embody certainly one of our most-loved Raleigh leaders recurrently and spontaneously shouting: “WE’RE IN INDIA, GUYS!”, bumpy bus rides with Bollywood tunes blaring, lengthy conversations whereas trekking by the mountains, a lot laughter – and naturally the superb surroundings, meals and great folks. I’ll always remember the decision of “Longs o’clock!” as nightfall descended and we needed to cowl as much as forestall mosquito bites.
There was, naturally, a crew video filmed to Eye Of The Tiger, and a expertise present the place my group sang Afroman’s “As a result of I acquired excessive” with the lyric-change “I used to be going to work, however then I acquired chai”.
All because of this it’s a devastating blow that Raleigh Worldwide has closed down. My one-week journey, 11 years in the past, is endlessly etched in my reminiscence in so some ways – it’s a pleasure remembering it right now. I’m so grateful for the resilience it taught me, for the expertise of residing with distant villagers in southern India and for the trio of friends who I nonetheless discuss to weekly after sharing a tent with them.
Thanks Raleigh, you’re endlessly in my coronary heart. And, sure I did get the T-shirt.
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