Monday, 25 March 2013

Seriously Exciting Easter Travel Plans

I have some seriously exciting travel plans for Easter. 

Let me put them in context: for the last 15 years I have sponsored a child through World Vision. Not the same child, you understand. I am on my third! He is a ten year old boy called Aloyse and he lives in Senegal. Have you worked out where this is going yet?

Last year World Vision UK started what they are calling an Ambassador Programme. The idea behind this is that people who have shown a commitment to the work of World Vision are invited to visit their sponsored child and see for themselves what WV do, where their sponsorship money goes, and how it makes a difference in the lives of the child they sponsor and their community. I was asked if I would like to go. After some deliberation, discussions on the logistics of it (who would look after the children, being our main concern!), and debate, I said, "Yes, please!" I am off this Friday.

Senegal is on the furthest western point of Africa and surrounds The Gambia.
The plan has become a bit more wonderful and complicated by the fact that a good friend of mine, Dr Karen, lives and works in Gambia running a hospital. Gambia lies within Senegal. Good eh? So, first I am flying to Senegal, then catching a flight to Banjul to spend a week with Karen and her new husband, Stush, and finally flying back to Senegal to join up with the WV group.

Karen, visiting last May for a much needed break.
I must admit that I am both excited and apprehensive: I have never been to West Africa. I know that it is hot, a fact which, considering the current UK weather, has led to a few slightly serious but also tongue-in-cheek derogatory remarks coming my way. I also know that there is Malaria and I am not even allowed to set foot in Senegal unless I have been vaccinated against yellow fever. I also know that there is a lot of poverty, the kind that we can't even really imagine. I know that Aloyse lives in a hut of some kind and relies on subsistence farming. I know that until last year the medical clinic in his village relied on a generator which wasn't much use when there was a medical emergency in the middle of the night.

I also know that WV have already made a huge impact through the development work they have undertaken in Senegal. I am very excited about seeing that. At the moment my sponsorship consists of a figure on my bank statement each month, with a letter from Aloyse twice a year and me sending him a birthday card and Christmas card. To see some tangible benefit, a person and his family behind it, will hopefully make it all more real. For that I am very excited.

I will endeavour to keep you up to date with progress while I am away but don't hold your breath! You may be able to follow our trip via their World Vision Facebook page and their website and hopefully on this blog and my facebook page.

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