Temiloluwa: On an average day, we would have breakfast roughly around 9am and be on our way to Culture Vultures about 9:45am. At Culture Vultures, we would be briefed on our morning activity for the day (trash picking, white washing and gardening to name a few), and after that we would have street food for lunch at about 2pm. After lunch we had our discussion group and headed out once again to meet with associations within the community (elderly home & widows association). Sometimes we had dinner at these associations and other times we had it back at the guesthouse, after which we would have ‘sharing time’ where we discussed our experiences with one another.
What was it like meeting and working with the locals?
Stephanie: The journey has taught me a lot about myself and if I can describe my experience in one sentence it would be this: The experience has taught me a lot about womanhood, the strength in speaking out, voicing my opinion, and the peace and serenity in knowing that change doesn’t always require a massive campaign, but can start with the actions and decisions I make today.
Temiloluwa: Meeting the locals, I always felt like I was on the receiving end. They always had something to give and or teach; namely experience and compassion. In many instances they had shown great zeal and responsibility for their own community and environment which made it necessary for us to respect it equally. I felt greatly appreciated by the members of the community for supporting the development.
What key things have you taken away from the experience?
Stephanie: Meeting and working with the locals was an extremely insightful experience. The discussions enabled me to gain a different perspective on education, feminism, and the effects of globalisation. Working with the youths to improve the sunshine square – which is a place in Sefrou the youth can call their own – and seeing their passion, this challenged me to reflect on my journey and in ways I can help my community and immediate surroundings.
Temiloluwa: Perseverance. The ability to hold on, stand firm, and continue in the face of adversity. This was a trait that I saw in the people of the local community as well as my other changing lives colleagues and our team leader. It was perhaps the most inspiring thing to recognise that everyone I had encountered is filled with living and its experiences and is still toiling for more, not because its comfortable but because they are keen to learn.
What advice would you give to anyone reading this who is considering applying next year?
Stephanie: Go for it, you have nothing to lose and so much to gain and also be ready to not only change lives but to have yours changed as well.
Temiloluwa: If you are considering applying for the Changing Lives Programme please make room for your own life to change.
Feeling inspired? If you’re interested in taking part in the Changing Lives Programme in 2016/17, then keep an eye on the Changing Lives section of the CU website for further information.