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A day in the life of a PWA volunteer

A day in the life of a PWA volunteer

Programme Completed: New - Female Health & Gender Equality

Date Posted: 08/06/2018

Volunteering in an unfamiliar country offers you an array of opportunities to learn about its culture and social norms. Read about Christina's experience meeting the Chief of a local village.

As part of our research on Gender equality we planned to visit the village of Bortianor to ask community members questions about gender, specifically related to education, health and relationships. To ensure we were working within the cultural norms of our region, we had to ask the chief for his permission before doing any work in Bortianor. If you think you can just send a simple email to them or give them a quick phone call to explain your intentions you are wrong! We had to go and visit him, passing on a letter of intent and explain everything in person.

So today was that day. First of all, we met with one of the Chief’s “big men”, he helped us (after waiting around for an hour) to meet another man who then finally allowed us to go to the chief. It took a while until all the required people were gathered together and the whole situation felt a bit awkward for me: all of the PWA team were sitting in front of the chief and his men, none of whom spoke any English, and pecking around between all of us were several happy looking chickens. Not the meeting set up I’m used to in Austria! Our PWA project manager spoke the Chief’s local language so he helped translate between us all. The Chief didn’t only want to understand the work we wanted to do and how it would help his community, but also where we were all from and the difference between the white colour ranges of our legs, some of his men were even wondering if some of us were wearing white tights! The Chief was happy with us and the work we intended to do and the meeting ended in a nice atmosphere, we were happy we could finally start reaching out to the community to conduct our questionnaires.

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