In mid-January 2016, I embarked upon a life changing ‘Adventure with Purpose’ through Africa, visiting eleven projects supported by International Needs, as well as enjoying luxury travel through Kenya, the DRC, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa. The concept of The Umoja Journey appealed to me on a number of levels. The variety, social impact and travelling with a team of like-minded ‘umojees’ were key factors. Being given the opportunity to ‘make a difference’ and invest my time and gifts whilst embracing the spectacular scenery, cultures and wildlife that Africa offers was a huge draw.
My Umoja Journey gave me a new perspective on matters of life, legacy and other issues of social significance. Upon my return to the UK, my first resolution was to buy no new clothes for a whole year and to save the money I would have spent to support some of the projects I had visited. I now sponsor a little boy at the Ephphata School in the DRC, have done fundraising for RHYCO in Nairobi, am a trustee of the Kivuli Trust (a UK charity supporting the work of the Gilgil Special School), and have taken on a role supporting International Needs in the area of communications and marketing. I have developed close personal life-long friendships within a number of the projects that I visited, and I have returned to Kenya a number of times since to revisit the projects I am supporting in Nairobi and Gilgil.
My visit to Guatemala brought home to me, in real terms, what I knew was happening, in theory.
Amongst the range of projects I witnessed first hand, was a health education session for Guatemalan mothers. These were making a real difference to their futures and clearly to that of their children. Seeing for myself the practical, hands-on, everyday assistance on the ground with real people was something I’d seen on TV many times … only here it was for real and happening in front of me.
I have now seen with my own eyes that these projects do make a difference and not just in the here and now. They will continue to leave an impact trail, a lasting legacy, long into the future. Hands on help now changes lives forever.
The combination of social and practical assistance made such positive sense. What I saw was not for TV, like some distant set of glossy images, but real, practical, essential work of turning lives around, making better futures for real people.