Monday, February 08, 2010

VILLAGE DIRECTORS UNDERGO A LIFE THREATENING EXPERIENCE IN THE NAME OF TEAM-BUILDING


On 31st January 2010, 14 Village Directors from 10 different countries converged at the SOS Regional Training and Resource Centre (RTRC) in Karen, Nairobi-Kenya to attend the first Continental Village Director Training, from 1st to 12th February 2010. Since our arrival, we have shared a lot of experiences and joys. To some of us it’s really a good opportunity, helping us to refresh our minds and to think outside the box as well.

I would like to share with you one experience, which will never leave our memories. This was a team building activity in which we were tasked to participate in several scary activities. On 2nd February, we boarded a minibus very early in the morning and went to a location about 100km north-east of Nairobi.

On reaching there, we were warmly received by Mr. Savage, the proprietor. At that moment, we could not figure out the kind of team building activities we were going to do. A team of 4 instructors came, divided us into two groups and briefed us on what we were going to do. In the morning we did activities like wall climbing, spider web, trust fall and land mine and in the afternoon we went for water rafting on the River Tana.

The morning activities were really hard. They required a lot of perseverance, planning and collective participation. They inflicted a lot of fear on most of us. We finally had to get out of our comfort zone to accomplish those difficult tasks.

But the morning activities were just an icebreaker. It’s when we were told to board the minibus to go for water rafting that we started getting worried. Although we were given life jackets and helmets to wear for our safety, we felt uncomfortable. Our discomfort grew from time to time, more so for some of us who had never stepped a foot in water to swim. We were all filled with unbearable fear: fear of water, fear of the unknown, fear of waterfalls and above all, fear of drowning in the water.

Yes, there was no way of escaping. As soon as the minibus dropped us to the starting point, it left. The only way to travel back to the camp site was by water, a journey that took us over 3 hours. Each one of us was given a paddle and told to enter the water. All of us had to paddle, following the instructions given by our leaders. We could at times paddle forward or backward, fall on the right or left of the raft and hold on the raft. All these actions had to be done collectively or else the raft could easily capsize.

Mr. Savage, like his name, is a bad-turned-into-good person. When we reached somewhere, he stubbornly and mercilessly sprinkled water with his paddle onto us that made us wet. As if that was not enough, he pushed us with his paddle, one by one, off the raft into the deep water. It was a shocking experience for me. The first time I nervously struggled to come afloat and ended up swallowing several litres of water. He did it to me the second and the third time as if he was only targeting me. But we were all treated alike by Mr. Savage. After rafting half the journey, we got used to it and the fear somehow reduced. We reached our destination and Mr. Savage finally turned out to be a good friend to everyone.
I no longer fear water. The experience has even motivated us to be adventurous and persevering. Just a pity I couldn’t take my camera onto the river!