Change is as good as a holiday
19 March 2021 - By Bianca Drieberg, Inspired Adventures Team Leader
Adventures are supposed to be just that – a unique and exciting or daring experience. And as a Team Leader, trekking and cycling into the unknown with a group of like-minded strangers is part of the challenge… and reward.
When I led my first trip to Vietnam back in 2017, I expected to be working alongside the local guide, looking after the group of people on the adventure and to use my fitness background to motivate the team through the physical challenges include on the tour.
What me and the other participants got was so much more. Something that can’t be anticipated about charity adventures is that you are bonded to the other travellers before you even meet them – because there is a purpose behind the trip. Fundraising for a cause. So, by the time even I got to meet them in the flesh, I’d already connected with them over email and social media so it was as if I was meeting long lost family members. Before long, we were shouting each other coffees, making sure waiters knew who was vegetarian and teeing up who the morning people were so we could get a walk in together before breakfast.
And like any family, when living together day in and day out, dynamics came into play. Lots of different types of people, some more travelled than others, some with big personalities and others who liked to keep to themselves. Part of my job was sensing and adjusting the plan if needed, because it’s normal with a group travelling together to want to spend time with each other sometimes and have some space in other times. From the outside looking in, it was quite interesting to watch and trust human behaviour work itself out – pretty easy to do when there were so many activities like dinners, day trips, craft markets and coffee shops planned to occupy ourselves with.
Special moments continued, facing situations quite different to the creature comforts back home when experiencing the simplicity of a home stay. I admit, it took a moment to take in the change. It was my first time, as it was others, sleeping on a mattress on the floor of one big open room covered in mosquito nets. Everyone had individual mattresses but slept in the same place, and rather than it being confronting, it was humbling that a family had given up their own home to share their way of life with a group of foreigners who were making a contribution to their community – simply by visiting.
A really unique part of this trip was visiting one of the projects that the fundraising would contribute to – in this case, visiting a hospital where people who couldn’t afford to get cataract operations were able to thanks to the efforts of the amazing group of people I was travelling with. It’s pretty powerful to stand in the hospital, see the faces, the varying ages of men, women and even children that we were impacting the lives of. We watched some medical procedures take place, we were able to share gifts we’d brought with us, and the lovely locals were so grateful that there were even hugs shared. I know I had never encountered those life changing moments and looking around, the whole team was moved. The money raised through fundraising seemed so insignificant when we could see the faces of the people whose lives were improved – humanity is a beautiful thing.
And the challenge itself of the trek included in this particular adventure was where the group found its rhythm. It was not a competition of who was the fittest or who had put in the training. What I found was that it was simply a group of kind souls that took the opportunity to walk with people that hadn’t spent much time with yet, and a chance to get to know them. And with frequent looks ahead and back, it was clear that just being there together created a sense of teamwork and family – everyone was looking out for each other, checking to see if they were OK.
Change is good. It opens us up to new things, helps shape new perspectives, and essentially helps us grow as individuals and as a community.
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