Q: Where did you go and why?
I went to South Africa and Swaziland. We were doing volunteer work for an organisation called ‘Hands at Work’ in Africa and they predominantly work with children to provide 3 essential services: 1) education 2) health 3) food.
Q: What was the planning process leading up to the trip?
The local church that I go to advertised the trip in partnership with the organisation, so we didn’t do it directly through them. There were people that were liaising and doing the middleman work.
Because we went in a group of 12 we would have group meetings- I think we had about 4 before the trip just to cover the itinerary, visa stuff etc.
Q: How did you fundraise?
I’ve done the trips twice, one last year and one this year and the 1st trip I did all of my fundraising through “Go Fund Me”. This year I put one up for the people that didn’t really know me well and if they wanted to help out. But as I was on my placement year I could use some savings, alongside braiding hair, to gain extra funds. I did people’s hair for 5 months and raised about £100 which was decent considering I’ve never really bothered doing hair professionally before.
Q: What was the most rewarding part of the trip?
To be honest it is difficult to say that any of it was rewarding. You can be optimistic and think that what you have done has had a long term affect but actually the realistic nature of it is that people have to keep on helping out. Most of the stuff that we did I can try to believe that it will stay long term but probably just the relationships that we formed with the kids will last. Other than that the actual day to day stuff was helping the kids get by as there was no one really there to help them. So it was more challenging than rewarding as when I came back I was thinking ‘I need to do more’.
Q: Do you have any recommendations for others that want to do volunteering aboard?
YES! There are tons of organisations that do trips around the world, it depends on what you like doing. Some people prefer more relational stuff so a lot of home visits. Some people prefer more hands on stuff like building something where you have a tangible growth or development etc. So research what is out there and what the organization stands for because you’ll be a representative of it. Regardless of where you’re at, the world is massive and there’s so much that we don’t get to see unless we take ourselves out of our comfort zones and listen to people that we wouldn’t normally share life with.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
I want to do more within international development, social policy, health or education, so the trip has helped me to understand how I can make a change. A lot of people think that charities are a lot about payouts when actually they make such a difference e.g. if you give £2 to Oxfam and they use that £2 to put a lock on a girls door who is constantly being approached by men and attacked, that lock means she is safe. But it’s not just the locked door, bigger things need to be happening in society and children need to be safe guarded. However, you need to be trained accordingly to be able to do that. So I think that’s the kind of work I want to do.
By Ann-Marie Msichili