This Thursday I am going to Sudan to teach English as a Foreign Language as a volunteer with the Sudan Volunteer Programme. I am now at a stage of life where my children have left home and have their own lives. This is the first time in my adult life that I have been footloose. I decided to re-train as a TEFL teacher and look at possible places to go.
I got a wonderful book out of the library called Teaching English Abroad which contains details of many countries and mentioned Sudan and SVP. I did a bit of background reading about Sudan and was hooked. It is a country with a lot of archaeology and interesting and diverse cultures. It is a country with a lot of problems, both war and poverty. The SVP sends volunteers to enhance understanding of the outside world in Sudan and at the same time increase understanding of Sudan elsewhere. As they are a very small charity, this is obviously a drop in the ocean, but at least it is a start.
I have spent the last nine months preparing to go. I have achieved my TEFL qualification, had some lessons in Sudanese Arabic, reverted to my maiden name, bought suitable clothes for an Islamic country and had a large number of vaccinations. I have also got rid of most of my possessions as I intend this to be a lifestyle change, hopefully doing alternate years of volunteering and paid work for the foreseeable future. As from Thursday I have rented out my home (a boat on the Thames, see picture). It is almost time to say "Goodbye boat, salaam alekum (peace be with you) Sudan!"