South East London ACF goes to South Africa
By L/Cpl Amiche from 94 Cadet Det RRF and L/Cpl Hemsley 77 Cadet Det RIFLES
As part of the Army Cadet Force, we have been offered many opportunities for incredible experiences. till, they seem to pale in comparison to the expedition to South Africa that we, a group of 24 cadets and 6 adults, shall undertake this August . As cadets from all across South East London, each of us has had different upbringings, and as such we have all been given different opportunities in life. However, this trip to South Africa offers us a completely novel and unique experience that is certainly unmatched in its magnitude of just how rare it is.
South Africa team selection
In order to get the most out of the opportunities that will be presented to us during the trip, we cadets have engaged in many preparatory activities. Many of us have made simple lifestyle changes to prepare for the physically demanding aspects of the trip; such as walking instead of taking the bus. Some cadets, in preparation for or part of various Duke of Edinburgh expeditions, have gone trekking, and in doing so have practised walking for long periods with heavy backpacks.
Navigation and endurance exercises on Snowdon
Alongside our instructors, we also took part in a navigation exercise during which we were able to build our endurance. The exercise, along with various other events, have allowed the individuals within the team to build friendships and improve our teamwork, enabling us to be better prepared to handle the inevitable mental challenge that comes with being away from home, family, and comfort for two weeks.
Furthermore, to ensure our interactions are respectful and meaningful, we have familiarised ourselves with the history, traditions, and customs of the Zulu people and have even begun to learn some key Zulu vocabulary - the primary language of Kwazulu-Natal. Learning phrases in the local languages and local customs ahead of time allows us to engage with local communities and learn about their traditions and challenges.
A most anticipated part of the trip is when we shall join in a football match with two local schools, for which our preparation will be most useful. As we are a part of the Army Cadet Force, we wish to honour the battles fought in the region, and so we are visiting some such sites, like locations of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. The battles had a huge influence on the development of South Africa as a country and resulted in implications for national and international politics.
South Africa is renowned for its diverse wildlife, which our team will be able to explore as part of this once-in-a-lifetime trip. We will embark on a range of different adventures such as a Big 5 Safari, where we will get the chance to witness African wildlife up close. This opportunity will allow us to witness wildlife that we have only seen on screens. We will also actively participate in community service initiatives, contributing to a meaningful giraffe conservation project which aims to make a positive difference in the region. Through collaboration with a local conservation organisation, we will engage in crucial tasks such as data collection.
This trip is an invaluable opportunity for us cadets and CFAVs to venture outside what appears to be the realm of possibility. In travelling to South Africa, we shall all gain skills and experiences that we would have otherwise never been able to achieve. For the cadets, we will build upon and cement strong, long-lasting friendships. We cherish the chance that you have given us to worry less about costs and more about this amazing expedition that your donations have made possible for us.
This expedition holds immense importance for us as cadets, especially considering the challenging backgrounds many of us come from. Coming from limited financial means, we recognise that this trip wouldn't be possible without the generous support of our sponsors. This expedition provides us with an invaluable opportunity to explore new horizons and gain life-changing experiences. It opens doors to personal growth, cultural understanding, and the development of essential skills. We are deeply grateful to our sponsors for their belief in our potential and for enabling us to embark on this transformative journey. Your support is instrumental in shaping our futures and creating opportunities that we might not have otherwise had. We are extremely thankful and hope that you recognise that this incredible expedition would not be possible without your help.
Cdt Osent -Kayaking on the lakes in Wales