Becoming a Social Enterprise and Dreaming: September 2014

There has been a long gap since our last blog but we have been posting on both the ‘Durban 2014 Overview and Durban 2014 Uncut’ tabs and on face book.

The trip to Durban was really successful and our experiences made us even more determined to make Crossing Countries into a social enterprise so that other groups can have the same enriching and empowering experience. To that end Crossing Countries is in the process of registering as a social enterprise with Jean and Beth as co-directors to be joined by Jude when she has finished her studies. We have to get advice on the correct clauses for the Articles of Association after that we will be a social enterprise. EXCITED!!

We have been busy since we came home… getting the web page up to date, giving feedback to the organisations we used and worked with and getting the word out about our project. We have also been doing researching and planning our structure and of course thinking about our next trip. There is so much to do and with us all back at work or studying it is complicated trying to fit everything in.

We have also been looking at the possibilities of going to other destinations, in particular Norway and Ecuador but these are just dreams…on the other hand we made the Durban dream come true so why not?

We are now looking for volunteers with skills who could help us with finance, training Travel Pals in supporting disabled people and any other backing/ advice. If you yourself would like to help or if you know anyone please get in touch on cctravellers.edinburgh@outlook.com

ALSO take a second to like, follow or share our page here or on face book or on twitter @CC_Travellers…you never know where a connection will led….

First Thoughts and Impression From South Africa: August 2014

A few days of our experience in South Africa have passed, and they have been some of the busiest, most wonderful and, admittedly, stressful, days possible. We’ve managed to cram almost every waking moment with new people and places and challenges and all sorts of wonderful things. The Team also thought it would be nice for you dear readers to hear from each of us, so here’s a few short paragraphs with an insight into each of our experiences.

Jude

Hello from sunny Durban. It has been amazing start to the trip. I found the journey quite hard and had to recover for a few days. The hotel we are in is right on the beachfront so we have some awesome views. My first real trip out was to Dloko High School. We had a very early start, waking up in the dark and watching the sunrise at breakfast. We arrived in time for assembly and entered the quad where the entire school was gathered listening to the beautiful voices from the choir.

Beth

I’ve completely fallen in love with this country and its people. We’ve really hit the ground running, spreading our time between crèches, Dloko High School, sussing out disability access around Durban, and visiting newborn babies and their mothers in hospital. Personally, the most moving moment for me thus far has been Jean handing me a baby, and the absolute panic of: ‘I’VE NEVER HELD ONE OF THESE!’ It turns out babies are great though, and I decided they can be really rather cute.

Agata

This first week of our South African trip has been an incredible experience to me. Meeting children at Operation Bobbi Bear, spending time with children from Gogo’s crèche and volunteering with Angels of Mercy have all made me think differently about my life and world in general. Beth, Jude, Jean and I had some fantastic times together visiting Umlazi township, eating gwenia (an African snack: a deep fried doughnut with ham and cheese inside) and visiting the African Arts Centre. The most delightful and joyful moments of this trip have been mornings during which Lucky (our local volunteer) and I run along the Durban beach and swim in the sea when the sun is rising.

Jean

So it was my idea that we should post our first impressions, on reflection this was not an easy request. My overall impressions… my pride in the way our team has overcome challenges, my joy in the relationships they have built up and the fun and hilarious laughter they have had with each other and with all the people they have met. My specific memories… Lucky saying that we are making history by being the first disabled volunteers to go to Umlazi, the scathamiya singers at Dloko, talking to the learners there about disability and my two friends, Sinegugu and Ntokozo, two professional performers, singing The Click Song/Qongqothwane and the Kiss Song, just for us in a coffee shop.

Lucky

This was the first time I was a first choice to work with a disability group coming to South Africa from Scotland. I felt worried but looked forward to a change of new direction of life. But minutes in a car from airport pick up it felt like we been friends/family longtime. Going running every morning with Agata, who is blind, and also swimming with her in the sea and seeing the team going out of their comfort zone to do charity/community work made me feel so lucky to be a member of Crossing Countries. Challenging boundaries, changing lives, still more to come…

First Blog from South Africa: July 2014

ForWordpressWelcome to Crossing Countries first blog from South Africa! We all made it alive, minus Mark, who joins us on Friday. (Good luck for the journey!) The entire travelling process, from Edinburgh to our hotel in Durban, took around 28 hours. It’s taken a few days to recover, but here we are, safe and rested on the 5th day of our trip.

Unfortunately, the journey did not start easily. Jude’s van, our chosen mode of transport from Edinburgh to Glasgow, decided to break down on the morning of our adventure. But as we said at the time, best to get the mishaps out the way early. A borrowed car and a train/bus later, the team made it to the airport on time and got ready for the journey of a lifetime.

We flew with Emirates, Glasgow to Dubai and Dubai to Durban. Though the flights were long, both between 7 and 8 hours each, they flew by. (Pun fully intended). As far as airplane food goes, our inflight meals were wonderful. Mmmmm chocolate mousse fudge brownies… Mmmm….

Moving on.

Finally we reached King Shaka airport in Durban, and were met by some of Jean’s South African friends, as well as her daughter Dani. Jean’s friends are possibly the loveliest guys in the world. We have Lucky with us, who likes to eat 6 plates of breakfast and fall asleep in the back of vans. Then we have our driver for the trip, Ntuthuko, who promises he drives carefully, but so far we’re yet to be convinced. (Of course, we’re joking!)

And there we have it: Episode One of Crossing Countries’ first visit to South Africa, hopefully the first of many more to come.

The Team

The Team  

From left to right: Mark Cooper, forever causing trouble; Beth Cochrane, potentially addicted to social media; Agata Dzieciolowska, our resident film star; Jean Cathro, the brains behind our operation; Judith Drake, professional at ‘getting-things done’; and finally, in the front row, Floss – fluffy, fun-loving and the cute one in the team.

 

Our First Post – So Here’s a Little Bit About Us

Crossing Countries is a new social enterprise started by three friends who have a dream. Jean, Jude and myself (Beth – hello!) met through University and realised our shared dream: to make volunteering abroad not simply something for the ‘able-bodied’, or for those who can readily afford such experiences.

We want everyone to have the opportunity to have an overseas experience.

So here we have it, the basis of our enterprise:

  • To match up a disabled student (a ‘Traveller’) with an able-bodied student (a ‘Travel Pal’) and make it possible for them, as a team, to travel abroad for work experience or to volunteer.

Although a simple premise, the journey we have set ourselves on has been a challenging one. Along the way we have found new team members, Agata and Mark, who have added their own experiences and insights into the enterprise. Through team work, dedication and a lot of tea, we have successfully booked our first pilot/marketing scheme. Here’s the exciting part…

WE’RE GOING TO SOUTH AFRICA!

Flights are booked, accommodation is booked – Durban here we come. The aims of this initial trip involve several points:

  • To source out contacts for our future clients
  • To forecast any issues our clients will come across
  • To have a definite budget plan
  • To have concrete marketing material

We have paired up within the team as Travellers and Travel Pals, and we’re all hugely excited (and somewhat nervous) for this huge step forward for Crossing Countries. Going to Durban will be the experience of a lifetime, and show that our enterprise is not only possible, but also achievable.