My name is Erica and I work for Yorkshire Water as their Lead Advisor for Carbon Regulation. I have been volunteering for WaterAid since September 2008 and along the way I have organised balls, fishing competitions, sponsored swims and taken part in numerous quizzes and cake sales! I have also been lucky enough to work for WaterAid at Glastonbury which was a personal highlight! I am a member of two WaterAid committees, one at Yorkshire Water and one in Sheffield. I am also on the speakers panel for WaterAid and have spoken to a number of organisations about the life saving and life changing work WaterAid do.
I’ll not dwell on it in fear of you switching off and looking at someone else’s blog, but in case you don’t know, WaterAid works in the poorest parts of the world to bring sustainable drinking water, sanitation and hygiene education solutions to the people who need it most. As little as £15 can bring someone clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene education for life.
In November I was lucky enough to be chosen to represent Yorkshire Water and go on the annual supporters visit along with other water industry reps. Caroline was chosen to go on behalf of Lumsden and Carroll, one of Yorkshire Water’s partners, but I’ll not go into too much detail as she will be telling her story in this blog as well!
The supporter’s trip is going to India this year!
Caroline and I thought a great way to keep everyone updated on our progress whilst out there would be to keep a blog, so here goes….!
When I first found out I had been chosen to go to India on the supporter’s visit I was a bit nervous, my nurse didn’t help when she handed over 22 pages of things I could catch and die from whilst I’m out there! But as departure day has drawn closer I have started to get more and more excited. I know the trip will be an emotional rollercoaster. I mean, I’m an emotional volcano, likely to go off into fits of laughter or tears at any one moment depending on the situation. I cry at Oxfam adverts for God’s sake, so I’ll definitely be packing a few boxes of tissues for when I meet people who are being forced to risk their lives by drinking dirty water every time they are thirsty because they have no other choice!
I’ve started by finding a back pack to fit all my clothes into. I think some may consider me a bit of an airhead as my first question when at the briefing day pre trip was ‘how many pairs of shoes will I need?’ but I’m not really that superficial, I just like to keep things light where possible, given the gravity of the scenes we are likely to witness in India I think we need some light relief and I am more than happy to help provide it. Talking of banter I will tell you about my attempt at building a bit of rapport with my fellow supporters via email. …
Once we’d been sent the itinerary the first thing I did was Google the places we’d be staying. To my delight I found that one of the hotels had its very own Disco, the way the website described the professional DJs and the type of music played brought a smile to my face so I thought I’d email the text on to the group to try and brighten their days too. I also thought this might spark a bit of light hearted conversation and would help me work out who I would become fast friends with on the trip. However, my plan totally back fired as no one responded, not even on a one to one basis. I now feel like a bit of a fool.
But I won’t let that stop me and I will try and make a better impression in person when I see them all pre-flight!
So, after that little detour, as well as finding a bag to pack my clothes into I have also been and got anti-malarial tablets which I will have to start taking at the weekend and have had a number of other vaccinations. The shocking thing to me is the variation in NHS advice given to the 20 or so people I will be travelling with. It truly is the NHS postcode lottery in action!
Ok, bag - check, vaccinations / medication - check, appropriate clothing - check. All I need to sort now is some copies of photos of my family and where I live (to give as mementos to the people I meet on the trip in India) and insect repellent. That’s this weekend’s job.
I have less than 2 weeks before we go on the trip. To give you an idea of what I’ll be up to a quick scan of the itinerary tells me I’ll be getting off the plane in Deli then jumping on a train South where were will spend a couple of days visiting rural villages pre and post WaterAid intervention, we will also be visiting a secondary school – note to self, buy pens, crayons and paper for the kids at the school. After that we will be train-ing it down to Bhopal for another couple of days where we will visit the urban slums and some pre and post WaterAid intervention areas there too.
Agh, just remembered another thing I have to do is prepare some questions to ask the people I am going to meet about their experiences so I can have some examples to tell people about when I get home. Thinking about it I might keep a scrap book whilst I’m there so I can take notes and fill it with pictures and things as a bit of a prop for when I get home and do my speakers panel talks….
Ok, so that’s me. An introduction to Erica.
Caroline and I will keep you updated as much as possible whilst we are in India and when we get back so please keep checking for blog updates.