For the past two months, a group of individuals have come together to experience a short term volunteer opportunity offered by Hands at Work. They have come to dive deeper into who we are as well as see and understand what we do in some of the most vulnerable communities across three of the eight countries we work in.
This year we have five participants from different parts of Canada and the United States who first met upon arriving on African soil. Their skills and abilities range from nursing to behavioral science to mathematics to business, but one thing is common: leaving what they know and humbling themselves to serve and learn.
Things our volunteers have been learning along the way:
First is the importance of having big ears and a small mouth - what it means to truly listen and learn from people. Sometimes we feel like we need to be speaking or even that we have answers, but what we learn when we quiet ourselves is more significant than anything we have ever heard.
Secondly, serving is less about what you are doing and more about whom you do it with. It is all about relationships.
Thirdly, we cannot do things in our own strength. As we walk alongside Care Workers and children, heroes of faith and diamonds in the dust, it is so clear that our strength comes only through Christ.
Stories of God’s children and servants in Africa:
Jill and Elena visiting Louis and his mother A few of us initially met a boy named Louis but we were so moved by him we all visited him a couple days later. His father abandoned him when he first became ill, three years ago. He is now bed-ridden, muscles contracted, and growing dangerously thin. His mother carries the deep sadness of seeing her son deteriorate but after receiving support and encouragement from a group of Christians in her community, she now does the same for others.
We also spent time in a community called Mulenga, which is home to a group of diamonds in the dust: passionate individuals who have suffered greatly in their own stories, but open their arms to bring life and hope into the stories of many suffering children. They deeply challenged us in what our story is about and what it means to truly be called by God into a better story.
Throughout the journey, the team has spent two weeks in South Africa, two weeks in Zambia and just finished two weeks in Malawi. As they move towards the end of their time, returning to South Africa, they are continually expectant to learn more about God, Our Father, through those who selflessly spend their lives for others.