Hear from Shailen 3rd year Fire and Leadership Studies student who was the recipient of a UCLan International Travel Bursary, where he went on an adventure of a life time to Zimbabwe….
The reason we went to Zimbabwe was because we were going with Operation Florian. Operation Florian is a fire service humanitarian charity which works in countries with a lack of resources and training. I was lucky to be a part of the phase 8 mission to Zimbabwe, it consisted of 6 students and 3 leaders. Zimbabwe is a country that has been working closely with this charity over the years and the difference Operation Florian has made has been life changing from equipment to training, they have helped the city of Bulawayo vastly.
During the week in Zimbabwe we had a strict schedule, we'd be required to be up and ready by 8:30am, ready to arrive at Bulawayo Fire Station for 9am. On arrival at the station, we'd be giving the activities for the day, during the first few days we were given the task of unpacking and distributing donated PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to the firefighters. This was a very rewarding job, as it was clear that they had worn old PPE, so to give them new items was really worthwhile.
In the afternoon we'd continue with the distribution of PPE, we weren't confined to the stock room though; we were allowed breaks when we needed and we had a kick about in the drill yard too.
Other days we had tours of local fire stations and a visit to an orphanage to donate items (this was very rewarding and humbling). During the days on station we made friends with the firefighters and managed to not only share practices but also gain knowledge from them; we also participated in hose drills with them. On the last day we took part in a very competitive game of volleyball, suffice to say we let them win!
On the weekends we went into tourist mode, we visited Victoria Falls, this was an amazing day out and has left us with amazing memories and pictures! We also went on a game drive which saw us see tons of wild animals, from lions to giraffes to elephants.
I came away with a deeper understanding of what the charity does and how the work it does impacts places such as Zimbabwe. It's made me want to work with this charity in the future in more countries. As an individual who has a passion for the fire and rescue service, this trip has given me invaluable experiences, from working alongside the firefighters to watching them train and giving feedback to them on how they can improve and what they did well. The memories I made are still vivid now and I talk about it as if it was yesterday. Not only has it added value to my CV, but it's also made me better as an individual.
30 January 2020