Published: 04 November 2017
Zambia 2014- Corey Weir
Through my association with Dromantine, also had friends who went before me. Last night with the boys in the shelter, playing guitar, singing songs we knew and they knew, playing songs over the car radio with the head lights on… singing waving flag, The song we both knew… Night outreach seeing young boys on the streets high on Stika, so young. As young as 4 and even the boys who had been on the street for years, and seeing how protective they were of the younger boys. Seeing boys who came from the street and how happy they were with the limited support they had in the shelter, but how happy and appreciative they are of the small small things, an old second hand jersey, a pair of trainers that have holes in them, a bright PINK pair of trainers…. anything and everything… ice cream that they had never tried before, a photo of snow because they didn’t know what that was… just incredible. The attitude to life that people have there, you never felt the need to be pessimistic or sad or feel sorry for you because you know that you would be bringing the mood down and you are they one that has no need to be down… In a heartbeat I would recommend, I’ve been back as a leader and I would go again? Being a leader is an entirely different experience and a lot more stressful but it’s so worth it. What advice would I give? grab the experience by the hands, leave nothing behind you, bring all the enthusiasm? Positivity and love that you can because that is exactly what you will receive out there.
Me and bodwin in 2014, then when we ran into him at mass in 2016 very healthy and doing so well
Then myself and baby Barry, named after our past long term volunteer.
South Africa 2014- Beth Bradley
South Africa 2014, it’s almost impossible to put into words the feeling of elation that I feel when I hear those words. To try and portray to you how truly amazing and life changing my volunteer mission with Friends Of Africa was this summer is extremely difficult; there are simply not enough words to quantify the incredible nature of the entire six-week experience. When I found out that I was going to be travelling to one of the many FOA projects this summer I was so excited, however I had no idea what to expect. Well before we were due to travel we attended meetings and training days to truly integrate with the group of people we would be working with, and we all had the opportunity to bond and form what I would now say will be life long friendships. The meetings were highly informative and dispelled all doubt and worry from my mind and by the leaving my mass I honestly could not wait to embark on the journey. We left for South Africa on the third of July from Dublin airport the eager anticipation was hard to bear throughout the 16 hours of travelling. Once we arrived it was clear that this trip was not going to be one to forget. While we were working in South Africa we had the opportunity to work on all of the Friends of Africa projects surrounding Vereeniging. We carried out a variety of activities at each project site; we restored a church hall and grotto, painted murals and signs, taught Religion, Maths and English, helped out with soup kitchens for the homeless and assisted in a caring capacity at an orphanage for children with AIDS. At each project we learned so much and by working with the children every day it truly was an enriching experience for the entirety of the group. It was heart warming to see how much gratitude and appreciation was given for even the smallest acts of kindness and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the longs working days. One of the main projects we attended almost every day was the volunteering at Doulos Care Centre for children with AIDS. I can
honestly say that the most difficult day of the 6 weeks was our final day with the children here. We had grown so close with all the children, we taught them and we learned from them we laughed and cried with them. You couldn’t play five minutes with the children without breaking a smile they truly would warm anybody’s heart. We interacted with the youth in Sebokeng and worked together to bring about restorations of their church. It was amazing to build a rapport with people our own age and listen to their opinion and their views. We had the opportunity to teach religion to the children in Rustervaal and see them come to life in enjoying their faith.
It was a real privilege and honour to have had the opportunity to meet every single person that we worked with while on our volunteer mission. Words cannot describe the
gratitude we had for their hospitality and extra warm welcome that we received. I can honestly say that the whole experience enriched my life for the better and the friendships I made both with my fellow volunteers and local people will stay with me a lifetime.
Tanzania 2014- Colum Hegarty
Short-term volunteering through Friends of Africa was something that I had grown up hearing about through presentations given at Dromantine Camp, with many of my friends and family going on 6-week stints in the years prior to me applying. I saw examples and heard stories of the work carried out by the volunteers and how much they both helped the local community in the areas they were placed, and gained from the experience. It is extremely difficult to isolate any single section of the trip as the highlight. The main highlight for me was the people of Moita Bwawani, the area of Tanzania where we were based. The locals were so welcoming and eager to share their culture and way of life with us. The generosity and positivity of these people, who had so little, was an extremely humbling experience, and being able to help these people in whatever way we were able to was incredibly rewarding.
Honestly, the most challenging part of this trip was without a doubt having to leave Moita Bwawani to return home to Ireland. The six weeks of volunteering goes by in no time and you develop such good relationships with the locals and enjoy your experience so much that it makes leaving all that much harder. However, everyone from our volunteering group is still in regular contact with the boys and girls from the tuition camps nearly three years later.
The teaching we carried out in the summer school camp at Moita was extremely rewarding. I was tasked with teaching maths and physics in Moita, and many of the boys and girls we were teaching were preparing for exams to gain entrance into good secondary schools and even universities. Many of the guys we were teaching had come from very poor families and had never dreamed of being able to go to a good school or university, but now through donations and the tuition camps this was a real possibility for many of them. Since leaving Moita over 2 years ago, many of the boys have progressed on to some of the best secondary schools in Tanzania, with some of the older boys even making it to university to study Engineering and Finance among other degrees.
Again the people, but also the laid-back and care-free way in which life is lived in Tanzania. Although the locals might not have a lot in terms of possessions or money, they more than make up for it in personality, positivity and generosity. Moita Bwawani was somewhere that was very difficult to leave, and is a place I would return in a heartbeat if given the chance.
I would strongly advise anyone that has the opportunity to go to Africa as a short-term volunteer with Friends of Africa to grab it with both hands. The experience was nothing but an extremely positive and fulfilling experience and I would have regretted not taking advantage of the opportunity. To date I would still consider going to Tanzania as the best experience of my life!