December 2009 – wrapping up my former life

Posted Sunday December 18, 2016 by Hazel Durbridge

As I mentioned, one of the things we are supposed to do prior to departure is to raise £900 sponsorship. I am not a great sales woman. In the end only two people sponsored me, an ex-colleague and my mother’s oldest friend, Joan.

In the end December turned out to be manic. It started with my final four days of VSO training which was one day of health and safety/first aid such as dealing with diarrhoea and the dangers of not taking your malaria tablets and where you shouldn’t swim and more videos of VSO volunteers who had caught AIDs from sleeping with the locals and other volunteers. Then we had 3 days of facilitation exercises which I found pretty straightforward. It did a lot for my confidence as I got lots of positive feedback from the trainers and fellow trainees and it made me realise how much I do know and how I can come up with ideas for doing things at the drop of a hat whereas other people struggle. I met an older couple there who were also going to Cameroon, but to the English speaking part several days journey from me. However, they knew they were going out on February 28th so although I haven’t got my date confirmed it seems likely that if they send me in March it will be then as you go out in batches. However, there were also a number of people who had handed in their notice and then found they weren’t going to their placement for another 6 months so I’ll believe it when my ticket is in my hand.

In the meantime I am still on countdown as a potential 2 months isn’t long. I am going through my expenses with a fine toothcomb and now know there is still a shortfall. I am having to rethink not putting Sean the horse out on loan and also where I am going to get the money from to pay for J2 at University.

In the second week of December we had J1’s pass-out which went off very well. He looked very dashing, had three changes of clothing in the day and we all enjoyed the food, fireworks, dodgems, marching bands and free alcohol. I got recognised by a guy from my history course at university who turned out to be a military number one top dog which amused J1. He even spoke to him later in the day and said, ‘what does your mum think about you being in the military, as at uni she wasn’t in to that sort of thing!?’

J2 was very poorly when A picked him up from Wales on the way down. I have never seen him so grey and he had taken to wearing an enormous hoody, stooping so you couldn’t see his eyes and being monosyllabic. He spent a lot of the 2 days sleeping in his hotel room while the rest of us sat around drinking and talking. I was shocked and felt he was depressed. However, he came back with us and has been at home since then, sleeping, playing computer games and watching telly (no Christmas job for him!) and the colour has come back into his cheeks and he is more relaxed and communicative. I have the friends’ camp who say, ‘but you can’t go if he needs you’ and the other camp who say that J2 needs to find his own way. His Dad is close by and from the evidence in his suitcase his new step mum is doing all his washing and he says himself he is there every week-end from Thursday to Monday.

So back to my planning. I still need my final jabs, my prescription has changed so I have needed to get new glasses, I’ve rung up the buildings and contents insurance people, cancelled my internet connection, I’ve begun a box of stuff to take, like 5 buzz buzz toothbrushes, my hammock that I bought in El Salvador, wind up torches and lamps. I am going to get a couple of long, long sleeved cotton dresses made (in deference to it being a Muslim area) because although the VSO people say you will end up wearing African clothes I think not. I’m sticking to my autumn sludgy tones and muted patterns I love, not Christmas wrapping colours and vibrant patterns. My hair is nearly nearly long enough to put up in a bun with one clip instead of 6 little hair slides. I’ve given up on the idea of getting the kitchen wall knocked down before I go. We are still arguing about what kind of sink and pedestal we are putting in the downstairs toilet so that will be enough to sort!

My list of ‘goals’ short term and long term is in limbo as I don’t know what the challenges will be …

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