Last Christmas we were given a very special gift by our founder Clare. We each sponsored a child through the Develop Africa programme.
Develop Africa aims to empower the lives of communities in West Africa by providing education, training, and support.
‘Over 20,000 children, youths, and adults in 10 countries have received school supplies, tuition/scholarships, computer/vocational training, microfinance loans, and mosquito nets, disaster relief, and miscellaneous support since 2006.’
I was paired with Nchunmalen, a young girl with dreams of going to university. She liked the colour pink and going to the beach, already we had something in common! Through sharing stories, I understood that although many, many circumstances divide us, as people we often share similar hopes and fears. There is a commonality that runs through us all if we only just try and communicate and understand other’s lives. To me that was heart-warming.
In a world full of difference and challenging circumstances, where the divide between wealth and poverty seems to be an impossible gulf to cross, sharing our lives became something to cherish. My experience not only led me to feel extreme gratitude for my privilege, but it allowed me to educate myself on another area of the world.
My colleague Trevyn was paired with a 13-year-old girl named Mary who appears to be a perfect match due to their common interest in numbers and books.
Trevyn said ‘Mary shares her hopes and dreams with me through handwritten letters. She tells me of her goal of becoming an accountant and her interests in fashion and reading. She often sends pictures to accompany her letters and I feel so incredibly privileged that she shares a small snippet of her life with me.
It’s great to remember how lovely it is to learn about and speak with someone new outside of my everyday life.
The opportunity to help with someone’s school and career goals is amazing but it’s the conversation with that person, in my case Mary, which makes it so special. I hope Mary knows that she inspires and helps me too. I’ve learnt only a little about Mary so far but our correspondence back and forth is the most incredible gift’.
Through dedication, hard work and raising awareness we can all do our bit in this world. Develop Africa set a fantastic example of how this can work in a tangible and visible way.
If we can inspire each other, communicate with others, and listen to other’s points of view with kindness, then we just might have a very happy Christmas indeed.