Last month, 2 Australians, Melissa Warren and Leyton Wood, travelled to Hands at Work in Africa to participate in the Orientation program for long-term volunteers. Leyton just completed Year 12 and chose to defer his university program to spend the year serving in Africa. Melissa, with a background in the IT industry, gave up her full-time employment to commit the next 2 years to serving with Hands in Africa. Two ordinary Australians, living out extraordinary lives!
Over the past 6 weeks, they participated in a structured Orientation program, alongside other international volunteers. Leyton shared: “It has been so great to be able to learn so much about Hands and the incredible work they do and also get to know the inspiring care workers that sacrifice so much so that they can provide support for the most vulnerable children, children who would have otherwise never been reached and assisted.”
As part of the orientation, Melissa and Leyton spent time living in one of the communities Hands at Work supports, Welverdiend, South Africa. Of the Care Worker who Melissa stayed with, she writes: “It was an absolute privilege to be able to spend the weekend getting a glimpse into the life of one of the amazing Care Workers who are such an integral part of the Hands at Work model – this is local community ownership in full action! Thelma is only 29 years old, so not too dissimilar from my own age and yet our lives are worlds apart. Thelma is such a strong and inspirational woman. I very much look up to her! She volunteers her time day in and day out Monday to Friday (and has been doing so since 2007) caring for the orphan and vulnerable children in her community (equivalent of a 9am-5pm job in our culture). She leads the Care Point in Welverdiend and the team of 14 Care Workers. She is not renumerated in any way for this work, its entirely volunteer work. After hours and on the weekend Thelma spends the majority of her time then cooking, doing chores and providing for her own family. She is my HERO in the true sense of the word!”
Melissa is currently serving in the Hands at Work Service Centre in Malawi, while Leyton is serving at the Hands at Work Service Centre in Zimbabwe. Stay tuned for more of their journey to come!
If you would like to know more about volunteering opportunities with Hands at Work, please visit our website at /individual-volunteers/