Chris McLeod, a young man from Whittlesea VIC, volunteered with Hands at Work in Africa for 6 months, as part of his gap year program, returning to Australia this past month. Read on to see how this experience impacted his life forever...
My trip to Africa was inspired out of a sense of duty. I wanted to take part in the social, spiritual and physical recovery that is occurring, and in the process, return with proof that hope should still be had for this beautiful continent. I have been discouraged and upset by friends who tell me to forget about this land of such diverse cultures. Friends who tell me that death, famine and war will always control the land. But after six months of volunteering, I know that I can break the illusions of perpetual poverty with stories of hope that I have seen and experienced.
During my time in Africa, I was honoured with the opportunity to serve in Zimbabwe. A country that is incredible on so many different levels. Regardless of poverty, corruption and other such grievances, the people of Zimbabwe remain proud of their nation. They are ready to move into the future – despair has no hold on this nation. I remember staying in a community called Pimai, in Honde Valley. It is located two hours outside of the city, in an isolated, yet beautiful, valley of lush green tropical forest, where waterfalls line the horizon. Facilities like electricity, running water and other things I take for granted are a rarity. Electricity is virtually nonexistent in most homes. Yet, careworkers like Baba John and Shadreck, men that I respect and admire, are not held back by these inconveniences. They surge through every day, tirelessly following where God takes them. Each day they are active in the community. Baba John was at first, ridiculed for looking after the orphans of Honde Valley. The men thought this was a ‘’woman’s job”. But now he inspires a new definition of ‘manhood’. Men like John and Shadreck, as well as the rest of the careworkers of Honde Valley, represent a truth that is very alive in Africa: God is in Africa! Hope is in Africa! Change is happening! I eagerly await the day that social, economic and spiritual healing flows from the north to the south, and countries like Zimbabwe rise up, changed and made anew!
My time in Africa has made me confident that life can change, wounds can be healed and that God is working wonders everywhere! But Africa needs prayer, it needs hearts from the western world that are full of compassion, a sense of duty and love. Most of all, an attitude of expectancy is needed: expectancy that God will raise Africa out of the poverty that holds it so strongly. We all must believe that hope in Africa is alive, and growing!