Hannah Clapham has just finished her 2nd year studying Geography at Birmingham University. Here she recalls the four weeks she spent in South Africa with Tearfund and the changes it’s brought to her life today…
God used my fours weeks in South Africa in ways I never expected. At the time of applying I didn’t think much of it. I just wanted a mini Gap Year experience that I felt I’d missed out on. But God is still teaching me things from my time away.
I was part of a team of 11 who went to help out at a children’s village for orphans with HIV. We did everything from organising an Olympic-themed Holiday Bible Club to painting a Noah’s Ark mural, to teaching, to sports.
In many ways the children at the village are very fortunate. They hear about Jesus every day, they receive all the medication they need (which is a lot), they live in small, well-built homes with a house mother and everyone working there has a genuine interest in their welfare and future. How amazing!
It is only when talking to the staff or spending more time with the children that the evidence of their lives before the village comes through. Many of the children come from backgrounds of serious abuse that has affected them mentally and sometimes physically. One girl has burns all over her body.
Thankfully, God brought her to the village where her burns receive treatment daily and her trust in adults is growing.
It was a privilege to see so clearly how God can work through all situations.
However, lots of children aren’t rescued. The hope is that similar children’s villages will be set up throughout South Africa and other countries, reaching thousands of other children. When the children are equipped enough to leave the village, they will return to their communities to be role models for the next generation and bring similar initiatives to other children in need. The knock-on effect can be huge.
One year on…
Almost one year on, it is now possible to see the lessons that have really stuck with me, “This unnecessary t.shirt that I’ll only wear once could pay for a month’s schooling for a child.”
There is so much we can learn from communities around the world. I have never seen people rely on God as much as the leaders of the children’s village. Every situation, however big or small, is offered up in prayer and God is thanked tenfold for answered prayers, whether they were answered in the way expected or completely differently.
I thank God that my team got on so well. Our on-going friendships help us to keep each other accountable to living differently at home. We continue to keep in contact and meet up.
My team’s prayer was that God would use our experiences and the relationships we made to grow us and change us so that we would live differently when we returned home. I believe He did and still is!
‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.’ Romans 12:1-2