Michelle and Katy are volunteering with CAFOD during their gap year as part of our Step into the Gap programme. Here they write about preparing to travel to Peru and Zimbabwe:
I found out I was going to Peru in October but it didn’t feel real until I sat down in my room, holding the travel information pack in my hand. I still remember the excitement I felt when I started reading it and found out that we would be visiting partners that work with women and young people.
Gender equality is an issue I’m really passionate about so I’m extremely grateful to have the opportunity to learn from CAFOD’s partner organisations that are striving to empower women and future generations.
So now, so soon before we travel (where has time gone?!), I’ve been super busy with preparation for the trip. Sorting out vaccinations, packing, and thinking about how I’m going to share my experiences when I come back – the list is endless! To add to all this busyness, I’m also trying to teach myself Spanish so that I can make a stronger connection with the people I meet in Peru (and try and give Ruth, our translator, a bit of a break!)
I have also been working on preparing myself emotionally for this trip as I know that there are things that I’m going to see and hear that will be quite difficult to take in. Despite this, I am thrilled to go overseas and experience a completely different culture while learning from the ordinary yet inspiring people CAFOD works with.
I can’t wait to get back and share what I’ve learned with young people here and, hopefully, inspire them too.
We’re going on a trip, in our favourite rocket ship!
Okay, so maybe not on a rocket ship.
But I’m going Zimbabwe! I am counting down the days to when I embark on my amazing trip of a life time; a trip I hope will give me direction for the next chapter in my life.
So far this year I have worked with CAFOD Lancaster for St Mary’s Catholic Academy as one of their gaplains, living as part of the parish at St John Vianney’s. It has been so much fun and hard work and is something that you can really get into.
I have an incredible opportunity to work alongside CAFOD and their partners in Zimbabwe which is far away because the flight is over 11 hours long.
I will be making my incredible journey to Zimbabwe with four other inspiring people who are also part of Step into the Gap and who want to help others. I am inspired that I have the privilege to stand beside these dedicated people and experience this amazing trip with them as we all have so much to bring to the group and the ability to make fantastic memories together.
After our preparation weekend I had time to reflect on where I was going and what I would be doing before, during and after my trip. I thought about packing for my trip – as I am huge over packer! – and the preparation I would have do for myself, so that I would be in a good state of mind for what I would encounter during my visit abroad; such as seeing spiders as I am very much scared of them, I’m sure you’ll hear me if I see one. I thought about my time in Zimbabwe and the different people I will meet during my visits to partners where they may work with people and communities who feel the effects of living with HIV and AIDS, and I also thought about the students at St Mary’s who will hopefully benefit by my being away so I can come and share my experience with them.
So, I hope that you will follow me on my journey as I write to you from Zimbabwe and share with you all that I can put into words.
See you later, Bye 😀