13,000 km to the Pearl of Africa
Global Development Group recently sent a team to monitor projects in Africa. It was Sam’s first Africa experience. We asked her a few questions upon her return.
What impacted you most during your trip?
Sam: “We visited project J716 with RefugePoint in Nairobi that provides assistance to refugees living in Kenya. It provides for their immediate needs through a relief program, but also works with the families to stabilise their situation through counselling, life skills training and a livelihoods program so they can become self-reliant. . . It was very confronting to speak with a group of ladies who had been through incredibly traumatic situations and separation from family when they fled the Democratic Republic of Congo. They spoke about their current struggles and how the project helps them. In Australia, we hear statistics and see news reports about refugees, but to meet with them was an eye-opener. It really gave me a greater ability to comprehend the daily struggles they face while trying to move on from the traumas they have experienced and the uncertainty of the future.”
This was your first time in Africa. Can you tell us some of the ‘stand-out’ experiences?
Sam: “The stand-out experiences were definitely seeing the amazing work of our largest projects, Watoto, Irene Gleeson Foundation and Mully Children’s Family. I have worked at Global Development Group for six years and each time I visit a developing country, I see firsthand the extreme poverty that exists. It is incredibly difficult. However, I also find these trips to be a positive and heart-warming experience as I get to see how our projects are working with communities to reduce poverty by identifying and addressing the needs through development projects that build capacity and self-sustainability . . . The small six-seat plane flight with MAF from Kampala to Gulu was also an amazing experience. I was lucky enough to sit up-front and we had an awesome view of the beautiful landscape of Uganda, even flying over the Nile! It was obvious why Winston Churchill declared Uganda the “Pearl of Africa”.
Any advice for those planning to travel to Africa?
Sam: “Be ready for a truly wonderful time . . . and practice being patient at airports! On one occasion I was singled out for an additional baggage security check. Then there was lots of waiting in lines that didn’t seem to be moving anywhere . . . At the Dubai airport it was the longest bus ride ever to get to our plane. I had no idea Dubai airport was that big! . . . I would advise anyone to be prepared to have to WAIT and that things sometimes take a lot longer than we are used to. These things are nothing, though, compared to Africa’s wonder. It’s definitely worth the trip.”