by Scott Montague-Murdoch
At the Fresher’s Fair, on the Friday 18th of September, I was doing an obligatory second amble around the venue, waiting for friends and mindlessly searching for maybe more freebies? Vouchers? An interesting society? But in any case, with the day getting on, this was becoming increasingly difficult. The amassing crowds of new and old students arriving obscured any signposting or notices of direction. I thought I’d cut my losses, avoid getting any clammier, and take my leave.
On my way out, statically waiting for a huge herd of students to move through, a guy in bright blue t-shirt approached me and asked, ‘What’s the most exciting thing you’ve ever done?’ This stumped me – I’m not unhappy with my life’s achievements, or particularly any of my undertakings so far, but I found it difficult to format any sort of (interesting) answer. In rather boring fashion, I shrugged and said that I didn’t really know.
The guy identified himself as Edward, from Childreach International – he was promoting for the charity, and recruiting for some of their projects. He explained that whilst working for Childreach, I’d be able to climb Kilimanjaro, or walk the Great Wall of China, both of which would trump anything I’ve ever done. I stated an interest and signed up to attend one of the info meetings. I attended the meeting a few weeks later, and post-presentation, amazed and intrigued, I felt moved to join, and knew that this was something I wanted to do.
Childreach International runs a number of international projects and a UK outreach program, all in the aid of children. They work directly with children, and their communities, learning from the source what they can really do to help. Not only do Childreach supply the tools and labour to build positive learning environments, but they also a huge advocate for the children on the global political stage,
“We are their megaphone!…
We advocate for children’s rights and internationality, to prove to governments, teachers and parents that there are positive alternatives and that real change can be made.
We equip children with knowledge, skills and confidence to raise their voices and claim their rights. Through education we create real, long-lasting change in children’s lives”
Childreach International was founded in 2004 by students from the University of East London, and all contributions are fundraised by an overwhelming majority of volunteering students from a number of different universities. So not only would this be an amazing opportunity be contribute to their work, see an incredible part of the world, but it would also be chance to meet new likeminded people.
I must confess that I have always been sociologically cynical, and have suspected some projects in the past of being a tourism enterprise, under the infallible veil of charity. Having studied models of development and aid at college, I understood that the work of NGOs may not always be what it seems, and some believe there are definitive and forecastable problems with aid: economic dependency, the illicit divergence of funds perpetuating war and the mantle of huge criminal enterprises, for example… But if we can assume that economic sustainability and political and ethical progression is how you can improve any country, then surely education is at the heart of that?
Although I can’t agree with his entire social/political theorem, I recall reading about the economist and political theorist, Walt Whitman Rostow. Rostow suggested that education was fundamental to economic development. When one can fully understand what action is required for development, they can participate in deciding what action to take in their communities and their country. This is in a contemporary world is achievable with a decent education. This is how I understand some the work Childreach International do, and how I can see that they can make a real change.
Now, I come to the conclusion of this piece, and ultimately my motivation for writing it. If I can encourage anyone to either donate, to sign up, or even just spread the word of UWE’s work with Childreach, then I feel I would’ve at least of done my part in the preparatory stages of this year’s Tanzania project. I hope you understand from my overt conjecture that I believe that only you can make the decision to come or not, but what I can assure you is that this will be one of the very finite, truly incredible experiences in life, and when will you have a better time to do it?