by Jade McClain, International Volunteer (Australia)
Jade joined Hands at Work in February as a volunteer, committed to serving in Africa for one year. After orientation in South Africa she travelled to Zimbabwe (with Grace, another volunteer from the UK) where she spent one month building relationships with the team of local leaders, and gaining a deeper understanding of the vision and heart of Hands at Work.
Life in Zimbabwe is fantastic.
We’re staying with the team leader, Farai, and his family: his wife, 5 children, plus 2 relatives, making this a very full, noisy, and joyous house. I am so happy to be here.
The local team in Zimbabwe, the Service Centre, is outstanding, led by the incredible baba Farai - possibly the most vivacious and joyful man I’ve ever met. I’ve never seen him without a broad grin across his face. His heart is sold out to God and to helping the most vulnerable in his community, and I am so blessed to be able to hang out with this legend.
This week we’re in the office Monday and Tuesday, writing reports/stories about communities. The Service Centre team are constantly working to support communities –making them more self-sufficient every day. Wednesday and Thursday we’ll be visiting the communities in Honde Valley. We drive over and across the mountains that wrap around a stunning valley. Certainly postcard worthy in my opinion! We’ll stay in the community Wednesday night, either with a Care Worker or a child who attends the Care Point. Friday is back to the office to have a weekly meeting: a time to update the team on the progress of each community, and what the next step forward is. Saturday will most likely be another home day (might even wash my hair!!) and Sunday, we plan to be off to Mozambique with the team!
The team in Zimbabwe will be rolling out a workshop with the Care Workers – a series that introduces the Jesus we know. This workshop is a chance for the Care Workers to share their stories, which for some of them is the first time they’ve had the chance to do so. Hands at Work realised the difficulty in expecting these Care Workers to look after children effectively when they have serious wounds still on their hearts. The whole thing runs over four days and is incredibly powerful and healing. Last week we visited a community in Honde Valley who had taken part in this workshop last month. The day was filled with incredible joy and worship.
As much as I might wish to have a role that allows me to play with gorgeous African children every day, I am realising how much more beneficial it is to the child to have someone from within their own culture and community looking after them. These incredible Care Workers, who so selflessly give up their time, are able to understand these children in a way that no mlungu could (no matter how African we hope we might be!).
A moment here to take my hat off to all the Care Workers out there – they have the most justified excuses to not look after the children in their community. Care Workers have children to feed, homes to run, and enough challenges they face in their own lives. And yet, they share their time and love so freely to help those just as vulnerable as themselves. I am learning so much about the character of Jesus from these men and women.
Life here is tough but great, and so worth it. I am grateful to God for this opportunity and am so excited to see what the next step is in the future.
Do you feel called to give a year or more of your life to serving in Africa? Come, volunteer with us.