travel bursary reports
Wow. What a year?! Although I’m super excited to share with you what I’ve been up to over the past 12 months - the lessons I’ve learnt, stories I have, restoration I’ve seen, work I have done – I’m also daunted by it. Daunted because I have SO many ‘best bits’ to try and fit into one report. But what a great problem to have eh?! To write this report I looked back over my monthly ‘prayer point and update emails’ to pick out the best and most important moments, and have been utterly blown away by a) How awesome our God is – a God who has provided time and time again, has answered prayers, equipped, blessed abundantly, challenged and grown me and never left me to tackle anything alone. A God who has brought us joy, endurance and strength. And b) How blessed I’ve been to have had such an incredible year; doing what I love, with purpose and people who are now my closest friends.
I will, if you don’t mind, break my report up into monthly sections and use bullet points as I’ve found this to be super useful in fitting a lot of information into a small space. I’ve also included links to photos and videos from throughout the year and if you do nothing else, I would encourage you to watch the videos. So here goes!
In July and August 2015 I spent 7 weeks in San Nicolas, a community in Soacha, south of Bogota the capital of Colombia. I was there as part of a Latin Link step team made up of 5 young students from the UK. We were working in a project providing meals and structured activities for deprived children from the area. The project was run by a Mennonite church in Teusaquillo, central Bogota. The project building also hosts a small church plant and various other community projects including dance and IT classes.
After months of praying and planning, I finally boarded a plane on the 13th of June to Entebee airport, Uganda. I was travelling from Belfast to Kabembe in Uganda, a little town 2 hours from the capital, where Africare has set up a unit to care for disabled children. This centre is called ACHERU – which stands for ‘Afaayo Child Health Education and Rehabilitation Unit’. ‘Afaayo’ is Luganda for ‘He cares’, and as this became my home for the next month, I truly learnt the meaning of this word! I travelled out with a friend from university, and neither of us were fully prepared for what we experienced in Africa!
My objective for my time in Colombia was to give the communities we were living with whatever they needed. My first project was in Bogota, in a community in the ‘invasion’ areas, our objective here was to help with the children’s, youth and any other church groups, we had to emerge ourselves into their church and do whatever was going on, and this varied from home groups to evangelising on the street and bringing new families to our church. We also had a project that was given to us, this was to help improve their school’s sports hall, when we arrived the floors were filthy, the walls were crumbling and the roof was pretty much falling apart. This is how it looked when we were finished… The community were very welcoming, and the Millan Family were amazing and made being away from home so easy.
My trip to Tanzania was absolutely fantastic. There were moments of happiness, stress, heart-break, pure joy and exhaustion! I was working with a small charity called Go Make A Difference (Go MAD) in a town called Musoma and the villages surrounding it. Musoma is right on the edge of Lake Victoria in Northern Tanzania.
During the 6 months, me and my team of nine got involved with loads of different projects, thanks to the amount of fundraising support we received in the lead up to the trip! One of the main things we got involved in was the building projects. Overall, we built seven water tanks, six goat sheds, a toilet for the teachers at a primary school, a house for a woman and her six children, and a couple of other little things. We loved doing the water tanks as we thought they were the most important and most needed in East Africa. They also worked slightly differently in that most of the work was done by the local people and we paid them to do it. So as well as receiving clean, safe rain water to drink (drinking from the Lake is highly dangerous and is riddled with the disease, bilharzia), the local people got work and received a fair, much-needed salary. The other building work was done by our team; I have learnt a lot of new skills, including concrete mixing, brick laying, sawing wood… I actually loved doing these projects as we felt like we had really made a difference in people’s lives and after all the hard work it was so satisfying to see the finishing products.
After 166 days out of the UK, my time was up I was returning from one of the most emotional yet amazing trips I have ever done. As you all know, in June I ventured on a 5 1⁄2 month mission trip to Uganda and Zambia to help some of the world’s poor with a charity called Mission Direct.
Mission Direct is a Christian charity who support great projects amongst the world’s poorest people across various different countries. They do this by sending volunteers; like myself, on these life changing trips to show God’s love in both words and actions. I was starting in Uganda for the first two weeks where I was going to be working with children who had various disabilities. Then I would be spending the rest of my time in Zambia, running and hosting UK mission teams to help ‘Restore the gift of Childhood’. A good childhood is precious and thousands of children are deprived of this in Zambia. Due to poverty and loss of their parents, children are denied basics such as; Food, Shelter, Education and...a loving family. So like the rest of the Staff Team and Volunteers, I had been called to Africa, we just needed to get there....
Read our reports from those we have supported through bursaries!