Post submitted by Molly Bennett
In July of this year I embarked on a volunteer trip to Botleng in South Africa, a township about an hour away from Johannesburg to help build a house for a family in need of it. The family was; an elderly man named Aaron, his wife and their grandson. Aaron was staying up at night because the shack they were living in would leak and his was worried the weather would cause it to cave in. South Africa gets to freezing temperatures during the winter nights, and the family we were building for only had a very small shack between them to keep the cold from getting to them. They lived in fear they would be washed out by rain or lose their roof. The charities I was building with were Amor Ministries and Urban Saints. Both incredible charities come together to build hope, in the form of creating sustainable housing in areas of the world who need it most.
In order to be able to fund my outreach trip to South Africa, I used the Stephenson College Bursary. We have to be one of the few college’s in Durham that offers this amazing grant scheme, and it is so, so useful. It means you can apply for a bursary towards all kinds of extracurricular activities. For example, I’ve known people use it for piano lessons and music equipment for our music society. And then others who applied for it to help fund lessons to speak another language, or to go on a mental health outreach trip to Sri Lanka. If you don’t know about it, look into it because it really could be worthwhile.
I truly think that one of the things this college does is help to promote the experience of University life, you can try anything new here and be supported by it. Whether it be starting a new society to going to South Africa to help build a house. There is something behind you for it all.
I hope to go on more trips like this in the future, on my previous trips I had the incredible opportunity to help support the child care centres within the Botleng community. I was shocked when I arrived as the centre was simply a woman’s garage with over 100 children in. Yet, it was one of the most loving and welcoming places I have ever had the honour to visit. To be able to help the centre by providing resources and support through games, activities, and face painting (where I must have painted over 50 children as a tiger) was a truly incredible experience. The work Amor and Urban Saints do is immeasurable, and indescribable to all those who receive support from them.