Two days ago I received my letter in the post from Project Trust telling me that I had been selected to volunteer in Guyana for 12 months. I was unbelievably excited, having been on tenderhooks ever since the selection course had finished.
"Project Trust was founded in 1967 as an educational charity on the Hebridean Isle of Coll in North West Scotland. Since then we have sent over 6,000 volunteers overseas. Project Trust sends about 250 volunteers to 23 countries annually and is widely respected as one of the most experienced and professional gap year organisation in Britain.
Our main philosophy is to provide young people with an opportunity to understand a community overseas by immersing themselves in it; living and working there for a year. All our projects are vetted for their suitability for volunteers, and none deprive local people of work. We have the expertise and the infrastructure to ensure all volunteers are given a challenging and exciting opportunity to develop themselves, and all the support available when they need it." - Project Trust
Despite having known that I wanted to take a gap year for over a year now, it was only recently that I had really become struck by the idea of volunteering with Project Trust. Someone from Project Trust came and gave a talk at school and from that point on I knew that Project Trust was the right organisation for me to go with. So I went home and booked a selection course. These take place at Project Trust's Hebridean Centre on the Isle of Coll.
Coll is one of the outermost islands of the inner Hebrides, so is quite a distance from London. After spending over 24 hours on planes, trains and in a hostel I, along with the 12 other hopefuls on my course, arrived in the village of Arinagour, Coll's most densely populated area (don't let this mislead you - only around 200 people live on the whole of the island....). From here we were whisked away, to spend four days teaching lessons, giving presentations and digging. It was a huge relief not having phone signal for a week, as it left me able to relax without having to worry about what was happening at the other end of Britain. The week ended with a ceilidh ( Scottish dancing, pronounced kaylee), which was a perfect way to sign off what was undoubtedly some of the best few days I've ever had with a brilliant group of new friends!
And so eight days after touching down at Heathrow and coming back to reality, I knew that, at this time next year, I would no longer be on this cold, rainy island of ours but in South America. Now just the small matter of £5,400 to raise before I go.....