Tina and Michael English, together with their three children, travelled to South Africa with Tearfund. In the midst of a dishevelled township the family had the privilege of building a vegetable garden for another family. Tina tells of their experience…
Before we went, we had quite a few concerns. Would our children cope with the experience? What would we be living in? Were we safe staying in a township? What would we be eating?
But now, looking back, I can say that we had the most fantastic time and I would definitely recommend a trip like this to any family.
We have two daughters and one son, nine, 13 and 15 years of age. We all knew we were going to serve and not for a holiday but as it turned out we stayed in a well-kept house, the food was fine and the children loved the whole experience.
The highlight of our trip was working on the house and garden of a family who had lost their mother to HIV. The father was just living in a basic wooden hut with his three children.
We all mucked in and spent the week building the family a vegetable garden from scratch. We also had the chance to do DIY on the hut, adding windows and helping to lay a floor. I can’t think of a more rewarding experience and it was lovely that we could do it as a family together.
We recently received a photo – the vegetable garden was in full bloom! At that moment, each of my three children knew they had made a difference to another family less fortunate than us.
We also loved being on the trip with other families. We hadn’t anticipated that some nights would be so cold, but this drew us together with the other families as there was only one single bar electric fire in the lounge. As we enjoyed the warmth, playing games together, we all commented on how this is what church should be like – doing life together!
But the cold also brought home the harsh reality of life for people less fortunate than us, like the dad and his three children living in their wooden hut.
Now, back in Twickenham we often think of that family. We have names and our own memories now to really bring to life the work of Tearfund in South Africa.