By Melanie Pita, Teacher for the Poverty Activist team, August 2023
Hello - this is Mel. This time I will be telling you about the past month of the current DI team at CICD – the Poverty Activist 12 month programme that has started in August 2023.
We are 9, me plus 8 students. We started the programme with an Introduction Week and following that, we started a one month period called “The Forces that Run the World”. We are still currently in that period as we took a break into this period to make an investigation and survival trips (2 of them actually).
We have spent some time deciding on what we were going to investigate, where we were going, the why’s and the how’s. It took us a few days to formulate the plans.
The first trip took 4 days and we went to the South. We drove from Hull to Northampton – our first stop – where we visited DAPP (Development Aid from People to People) second hand clothes and shoes shop. We had a presentation from the DAPP UK manager – Dana – where we learned about the clothes and shoes collection, selling of the clothes and how the money goes into the DAPP projects in Southern African Countries.
The day after we went to Eden Project. The first challenge of the day was actually to get the battery of the car going as it was flat. 3 of us started to push the car, uphill – bad idea! We finally managed to get it started and then we went to visit the project. Eden Projects is made out of gigantic biomes, with very diverse flora. There we spent the whole day, enjoying and learning so much. We visited the tropical rainforest biome, the Mediterranean biome and walked on beautiful outside gardens full of veggies, flowers and many bees.
The day after we were at the Jurassic coast. We camped on a camping site. Cooking took us a long time on the fire, every day. The weather was brilliant so we enjoyed the beautiful views of the coast, bathed in the ocean and found an uncountable number of fossils and fossil prints. We walked a lot, enjoyed each other’s company, and we got to know each other much better as a team.
The following day we basically packed and travelled back home, having a stop on the way in a beautiful castle and did a hike. Coming back to CICD was also good as sleeping in our own beds and having a shower was a common wish
The first 3 night we stayed with a friend Edinburgh. She kindly offered her house for us to stay at. Me + 2 students slept in the car and the other 6 stayed in the living room. The first full day in Edinburgh we spent getting to know the City Farm and having an action there in the morning. Growing organic food in the middle of a big city like Edinburgh is definitely something we wanted to support. Then we used the rest of the day to go to the botanical gardens and walk around the city to get to know a bit of the Scottish culture.
The following day we went to an Environmental Rights Summit. We had a morning with workshops and an afternoon with speeches. The Summit was mainly based on Scottish issues and directed very much into Scotland but there was a lot we could get out of it and learn too.
The following day we said goodbye to Edinburgh and to our dear host and went up to stay at a Bothy (small hut for public use) in the middle of nowhere of a nature reserve in Scotland. This is when our trip became extremely interesting.
We decided to stay by the river and camp there for the night, instead of walking the 5 km to the Bothy. We prepared a very safe space to make a fire by the river, on the rocks, we collected wood, started the fire and started chopping veggies for our dinner. Then the rain started so we managed to cover ourselves and the fire and food with the wind breakers as a small tent.
Then we were full on attacked by midges (small annoying flies whose sting is worse than a mosquito). While some of us cooked, others ventured crossing the river to collect pine needles and sap to protect ourselves from these small powerful midges. I think I fell 4 times in the fresh river water. Was an experience!
We ate, while burning pine needles to repel the midges, we dish-washed and then hid in n our tents until next morning. We were woken up by a lady kindly reminding us we were on private land so we were only allowed to stay one night. She was also about to release the sheep into that field by the river.
As soon as we stepped out of the tent another maniac, big, indescribable wave of midges attacked. I don’t think we ever packed so quickly. We headed to the cars. By the parking place it seemed to be less midges - but not really. We packed all well on the cars and started to drive – only to find out that one of the cars had a punctured tyre. Another round, another adventure. We managed to reach a supermarket. We had breakfast as if we were in a park, sitting on the ground, sunbathing, and solved different issues. Ready to go back to CICD, off we went for a 7 hour car ride.
Again, it was a good travel but arriving home never felt so good! We are still scratching our itchy spots from the midges but we had 2 successful trips where we learned a lot, about the places we visited and most of all about each other.
Now back here at CICD we are studying about the Arab Spring, Weapon Sales around the World, Capitalism, NATO and Imperialism. Very intense weeks we have had and more to come. The preparation period of the DI programme is full of content, adventures and challenges and you have to be flexible, responsible and resilient. This preparation period will equip you for the period you will be at the project, full of experiences, skills, knowledge and co-operation.
Come join us – I’ll give you some courses and introduce you to Scottish midges.