We may have missed World Marmite day in September and Hug a Drummer Day in October (it’s a real thing), but there is one day we don’t want to miss out on celebrating. This Thursday (05/12/19) is International Volunteer Day, so Tearfund Go went on the move to hear from our volunteers and partners around the world. Here are some of the stories we were told.
Growing in faith in Malawi
On her three-month placement in Malawi, Esther Elliston found her faith was restored through the life changing relationships she built.
Being part of the global church and helping with a local charity in Malawi changed my life and relationship with God completely. Before I went on placement my faith was dwindling, but while I was in Malawi my relationship with God was completely renewed.
‘Visiting churches in rural Malawi showed me the joy the local people had in the Lord, and seeing the thriving global church overseas encouraged me in my own journey. Since being home I have started going to church and enjoying a personal relationship with God again.
I believe God used my time away to open my heart up to him, and being a part of a community that loves God so much was something that still impacts me now.’
Building memories in Bangladesh
Bangladeshi volunteer Dian Sarker spent three months working alongside a team of UK volunteers in his home country. He explains why it was an unforgettable experience.
‘My time as a volunteer is something I will cherish my whole life. Not only did it make me better at teamwork, it also helped me grow as a person in many aspects. I learned how to adapt in various different situations, how to solve problems without conflict. My perspectives have improved in so many ways.’
For UK volunteer Hannah Hughes, three months in Bangladesh was a chance to create lasting memories with the local community.
‘One of my highlights from Bangladesh had to be Valentine’s Day. Everyone in the village had the chance to present their talents. From singing to performing a dance routine, doing a short play or just simply having fun, it felt like Bangladesh's Got Talent! Our team prepared a dance, which we performed in front of everyone. It was great fun.’
Mutual encouragement in Zambia
As well as offering their skills and time, Tearfund’s volunteers learn so much from our partners and the communities they work with. Volunteer Misha explains what she gained from her two-week placement with the Jubilee Centre (JC) in Zambia.
‘It was an amazing experience as well as an incredible opportunity to both learn and help others. I learned a lot about the issues people faced and the ways in which those issues can be addressed.’
For Martha Temfwe, co founder of JC, the value volunteers bring is two-way.
‘In local communities, a lot of people struggle with low self-esteem. But when the volunteer teams come alongside them, they realise that they can help others draw close to God.
‘It’s not just about us gaining from the volunteers, but the volunteers are also able to learn from those they meet – from their lives, the way they do church and they way they love God.’
All of a sudden local communities realise they have something to give, someone is able to listen to them, someone is able to encourage them in their walk with God.
Long-term vision in Cambodia
Kate Millar shares how her view of poverty and how we address it was transformed through her experience of volunteering in Cambodia.
‘God showed me people who lived out this long-term vision with their whole lives. They were devoted and faithful, investing in their communities, striving to bring sustainable change from the roots upwards and praying as they did it.
‘Now, back home in Scotland, I want to bring that long-term, God focused perspective into my life here. How can I do that? Through being patient and steadfast, living more sustainably, investing in friendships and loving people for the long-run.’
Family fun in Uganda
Swapping a more traditional family holiday for a placement in Uganda was a life changing experience for Angela and her children.
Our kids really enjoyed building relationships with the local people. It was life-changing for them to be surrounded by a different culture and environment. Seeing how other people live was massively impacting for them.
Angela Thorne, two-week Uganda volunteer
Stories of change in Tanzania
We’ve heard how volunteers have been impacted and shaped by their time overseas. Davis Dominick, a programme co-ordinator with the African Inland Church of Tanzania (AICT), shares how volunteers also help shape the lives of those they meet.
‘There is one team that came and worked with us at our agricultural training centre. Speaking with a lady at the centre, they discovered that she could not read or write so they decided to do some fundraising in order for her to attend classes. She went to classes for six months and now she knows how to read and write. We would like Tearfund to send us more teams!’
Want to see the value in volunteering for yourself? Join us on a Tearfund Go placement.