Scottish Charity Number: SCO36069

5th January 2011

Katie-Mairi King: Initial report

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WOW!!! I think that is the only word that comes close to describing how Im feeling right now. I leave…….TOMORROW… For the past year this trip has been something to look forward to but has never been something that will actually happen. Im an emotional wreck. 6 months on an island in the South Pacific, 8 months away from familiarity. I literally could not be going further away from the small desolate village of Bridge of Allan that I call my home. I dont think my mums too impressed. However, these next 6 months are going to be the best months of my life. I am sooo unbelievably excited. Yes, there is that small fear at the back of my mind but shouldnt I be worried if theres not?

So have you ever seen the film South Pacific? Bali Hai? Yup, you guessed it, thats where Im going! Paradise? Not quite. The island has an active volcano in the middle, is prone to earthquakes and at the start of the year had a tsunami. Thats not all, during the wet season the island is prone to cyclones and all that other dangerous stuff. I do often have to remind others and sometimes myself why Im going to this place, when described like that just seems suicide. But at the same time I am in for the most incredible experience and Im not even worried about any of that!

I will be teaching at Loone Primary School a small school on the island of Ambae (Vanuatu). Its a very poorly developed island but the children over there are all so keen to learn. In the past the Lattitude volunteers have been much appreciated and have been of great benefit not just to the school but to the local community as well. I hope that my stay there will have as big an impact as others have been. I will be living for 6 months with no running water and no electricity. Yeah thats right, no facebook!! How are you going to survive? my mum says, but I think Ill get by just fine. The nearest source of electricity is a 30min walk away which lets be honest isnt really that far so Ive ensured my family and friends that I will keep in contact regularly (I did tell them that every day was a bit excessive).

A lot of people keep warning me Never go wandering by yourself, its not safe! which, I will admit, does confuse me a little as last year Vanuatu was voted the happiest place on the planet. However, Ive made my promises. This trip away is going to be such a culture shock for me however it is a once in a life time opportunity and something that I will remember and have with me for the rest of my life. My friends and I have decided when I return I will be a completely different person, Im interested in who that is going to be. I am aware that at times it will be tough, but when these times come I just need to remember how lucky I am to have such a huge opportunity as this. And hopefully my partner Jenny and I will stick together and be there to support each other.

As the school have few resources I have used the money donated by HFT to buy teaching equipment and sports equipment as I plan to start up some after school clubs which I hope will continue after Ive left. These include volleyball and athletics. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at Hazels footprints for their generosity and for helping me fund my trip to Vanuatu.

Katie-Mairi xx

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