One mans ceiling is another mans floor

My African Volunteer Journey

Having read Do Something for Someone  Else and It’s Never Too Late to Make a Difference on this Website, it prompted me to write about a significant piece of my retirement. It has taken me to Africa on a few occasions but being there, and seeing what can happen, is a great way to confirm that you can change someones life for the better if you choose to! All it takes is a willingness to give some time to a worthwhile cause and you can change someone ceiling into a floor for them to stand on to change their world!

Finding Fulfilment

I retired from very busy full time work as a teacher at the end of 2012, and over the past few years I have walked the paths of too much to do, not enough to do, what do I do now, and how on earth can I find fulfilment?  One thing that has been a constant for me has been doing voluntary work for a Gold Coast based aid organisation called Mission Educate, which works to see transformation and hope in the lives of people in developing nations.

To date, the primary focus has been on Mozambique, on the east coast of Africa.  Mozambique is one of the world’s poorest nations on the earth, in which over a million children don’t have any access to schooling. That’s a lot of children who hit a limit in life because don’t know how to make their lives better.

Building up Others.

Mission Educate has provided the buildings and support for local teachers to run a school on the outskirts of Beira, Mozambique’s second biggest city, has established a Vocational Training College, and is in the process of establishing a Literacy Program to help adults in remote villages to learn to read.

Over the years with Mission Educate I have done many things; some relating to my previous work as a teacher, assistant principal and principal; but mostly unrelated.  I have learnt how to use new computer software while helping with admin work in the Mission Educate Office. I have assisted in a variety of ways as a volunteer at special events, like the The Mozi Run  and have joined the Mission Educate Board.

The Rewards

The most exciting part of volunteering for me, though, has been to make a number of visits to see (and help with) the work in Mozambique.  As part of a team of people of a variety of ages and from differing walks of life we helped with teaching in classrooms, painted classrooms and building roofs, assembled shelving and tidied up storerooms, assembled and erected playground equipment donated by a school in Australia, and so much more.

It has been a privilege to help in all sorts of ways – to see the difference in so many kids lives and to give them hope of a better life.  KNOWING CHANGES EVERYTHING (both for those we help and to ourselves as we come to know more about the struggles faced by children in developing nations. When we know, we are more motivated do something to change their lives for the better.

We also know that 95% of volunteers say that volunteering is related to feelings of wellbeing and that volunteering is highly associated with greater health and happiness. According to one report from 2011, the experience of helping others, provides meaning, a sense of self-worth, a social role and health enhancement. So the bottom line is, if you want to live a longer and a happier life, find your place amongst the volunteers around the world and make a difference to someone else life.

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