Our GOLD trip to Zambia

GOLD projects make a difference to guiding in countries all over the world - and to the young women who take part, like Liz Haigh who went to Zambia with GOLD

Every single member of our GOLD team learned something valuable in Zambia. Whether it was self-confidence, public speaking, working as a team or adapting to new situations, we all learned valuable life lessons and it was an experience we will never forget.

I was one of six young women from around the UK to embark on a trip of a lifetime to Zambia with Girlguiding. Guiding Overseas Linked with Development (GOLD) runs projects to support the work of international guiding. Our team members were all different ages and from different places, but we all had one thing in common - Girlguiding!

In the first year of the Zambia project, we didn't know what to expect. We flew into Lusaka and, after a cramped 10- hour bus journey, elephant sightings and one of our team nearly losing her seat, we finally arrived in a rural town called Mongu.

Courtesy calls

Before training the girls, we were introduced to 'courtesy calls' which involve meeting influential people in the area.

We visited the Permanent Secretary of the Western Province and his District Commissioner, the Provincial Education Secretary, the Town Mayor (who was hilarious!) and the District Education Board Secretary. It was the Permanent Secretary who told us: 'If you train a girl, you train a nation!' It was amazing to hear how supportive they were of our project.

Training sessions

The aims for our project were to improve the confidence of the girls and to teach them about gender equality, sexual health, careers and advocacy. We led training sessions based on these aims and the girls were really receptive.

For advocacy, we asked the girls to write letters to important people and explain issues which mattered to them. We had many girls write to the First Lady of Zambia, their teachers and even members of the GOLD team!

The girls also told us their dream careers and we ran a 'stepping stone' activity where they learnt the different stages of achieving their aspirations. They all recognised that whatever career they wanted, they needed to stay in school.

We also taught the girls about gender equality and how this has changed over the last century. The girls reacted so well to all the training sessions and we feel they all learnt a lot. We evaluated each session at the end of the week and found that the majority of girls loved them all. It was incredible to see their response.

Challenges we faced in Zambia

One of the main challenges we faced was the language barrier. We had to quickly learn to adapt our training sessions by simplifying them as much as possible, as many of the Zambian girls spoke little or no English. This was a struggle at first as we had not expected it, but luckily the Zambian Guide Leaders were on hand to help translate.

Lessons we learnt from GOLD

Every single member of the GOLD team learnt something valuable that first week in Mongu. Whether it was self-confidence, public speaking, working as a team or adapting to new situations, we all learnt valuable life lessons and it was an experience we will never forget.

Find out more about GOLD

GOLD is a great way to go abroad with guiding and make a difference