Melbourne teenager Hugh Evans is spending six months in KwaZuluNatal, South Africa, as World Vision's inaugural Youth Ambassador.
Hugh, 19, is establishing a child sponsorship program in God's Golden Acre (GGA), an orphanage which is home to 60 children who have lost parents to the African HIV/AIDS pandemic, and for more than 750 children in the surrounding area.
Other projects include speaking to local high-school students on issues such as HIV/AIDS, self-esteem & education, and working with the community to turn a rubbish dump into a sports ground. He is producing a monthly report on World Vision in South Africa and is setting up a webcam so child sponsors can meet their sponsor children via the Internet.
"My faith was a prime motivation in going to South Africa," said Hugh. "When I finished Year 12 last year I thought that I wouldn't like to go through another five years of study (he plans to study Law/Science) without first exploring my inspiration for the course that I will be doing," he said.
"I offered this to God in prayer, and for two nights I couldn't sleep because my mind was thinking overtime…Instead of sleeping I drafted a proposal letter to Lynn Arnold, CEO of World Vision, and after some talks with the pastor of my church, I sent the letter."
His proposal was accepted the following week. Hugh spent the next few months planning the trip, raising funds and talking to schools and churches, before leaving for South Africa on 15 April.
Hugh describes the highlights so far as getting to know the children in the orphanage and forming relationships with local people. Spending a week with a Zulu family was an eye-opener. "Their house was very basic, with no toilet, shower or running water inside, yet their hospitality was amazing," he said. "God taught me so much that weekend about the differences in this world that are by pure virtue of birth."
Some of the challenges include adapting to "African time", which is much more relaxed and spontaneous than life in Australia. It's also been a struggle to stay positive in the face of the size of the problems: unemployment; HIV/AIDS; drug and alcohol abuse; and domestic violence.
"These are major issues, but I am confident that the work of GGA and World Vision is having a huge impact on people's lives. Every time we give a child a new pair of shoes, or drop a food parcel to a starving family, I know that it will have a huge personal impact in their life."
For more information on the Youth Ambassador program or to contact Hugh visit: www.media.anglican.com.au
Article from: The Melbourne Anglican