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College student returns from Tanzania

November 25, 2013 at 11:34 AM

With thanks to Year 9 student Isabella Denholm

In November this year I had the privilege of attending the  World Vision (WV) International Triennial Council in Arusha, Tanzania as the WV New Zealand Youth Representative. The theme of the Council was youth engagement and I joined 35 other youth representatives from all around the world to learn and contribute at Council. The 12 days spent there was an amazing, life changing and memorable experience – and one I will never forget!

The overall trip was divided into three phases: Firstly we visited a WV area development project to see the work of WV firsthand and meet some of the families and communities impacted by the assistance of WV New Zealand. Secondly we were involved in a youth preparatory workshop were all the youth representatives prepared their presentations and shared their stories.  And thirdly we participated in the actual Triennial Council where we learnt and shared our country presentations with all the WV CEOS and board directors. 

Magugu Area development Project (ADP)

The first few days in Tanzania were spent at the Magugu ADP. This ADP has been supported by WV NZ and we were able to see firsthand where donor money goes to! We started the trip to the ADP by visiting the wonderful Maasai women. As we pulled in, we were greeted by incredible singing and dancing - and I was amazed by their talent. Everywhere we looked; our eyes were filled with the bright, joyful colours of the ladies dresses and necklaces as they jumped up and down doing the traditional Maasai dance. We then visited ‘Sophia’ who works as a hairdresser, funded by a WV Microfinance project. It was amazing to be able to meet Sophia and to see how Microfinance had impacted her life.

The following day we were lucky enough to be invited along to the opening of a big World Vision project. The Magugu ADP has been working alongside WV to build a large water pipe through the community, which meant that the people in this community now had close and constant access to fresh water. We met the Regional Commissioner here and then visited a few of the villages that were impacted by the water project. It was inspiring to hear the stories about how the water project had made an impact on the lives of so many people in these villages.    

I loved visiting the ADP and didn’t want to leave! The children and families were so friendly and made us feel like their own family. Even the Village Chief looked after me! It was sad seeing some of the challenges and difficulties families these communities were facing – many may have only been living on $1-2 dollars a day, but it was amazing to see the difference World Vision has made.

Youth Preparatory Workshop

The next part of our trip was spent at the youth preparatory workshop. Here we got to meet 35 other youth representatives from 32 different countries. We spent time with each other learning about one another’s stories, family, school, communities and lives!   It was inspiring to hear everyone’s stories and what it was like back in their home country. WV NZ is a ‘support office’ – and the money raised in NZ goes to the field or ‘field offices’. So it was great to hear and see where our money was actually going to, and how our fundraising and donations really affects the lives of others. It was also interesting seeing the needs amongst youth of other countries compared to those in NZ. Many youth had to face challenges such as poverty, disease, no education and the impact of war etc. We have such different issues facing youth here in NZ – and I realized how lucky we are!!

Triennial council

The last part of our journey was the actual Triennial Council. At the Council, over 300 WV Directors and board members met to discuss the WV strategy for the next three years and hear what youth, like me, had to say about youth engagement! Every morning we attended meetings and learnt about the work of World Vision; what they have achieved over the last three years - and what they intend to do for the years ahead. It was amazing to hear just how much World Vision was doing to help and I was inspired by what they are planning to still do.  

One of the highlights for me at the Council was working as a ‘youth journalist’. This meant I had to interview and record the stories and events that took place during Council. It was so sad to hear of the challenges and difficulties in so many developing countries – diseases, war, conflict, poverty etc - but it was inspiring to meet individuals that were working to make change and bring hope.

At Council I also presented my research on what youth in New Zealand were doing to help child wellbeing. It was such a great experience to   talk to all the board members and to give suggestions as to how they can work alongside kiwi kids and engage them a lot more.

So in summary, I am so grateful for the opportunity to go to Tanzania with World Vision. It was such an amazing experience and a real eye opener. I will never forget the experiences I had and the people I met. I have friends from 30 different countries and will always remember their stories and courage. It was a truly inspiring trip and of course I now hope to go again someday!

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