GOING to Zambia with Missio Scotland as part of the Get Involved Globally initiative was a truly great and life-changing experience and one I will never forget.
The highlight of the trip was meeting the Zambian people themselves. They were all so friendly and very dedicated to their faith. It was really inspiring to see how devout they were. It was interesting to witness, because it made me think that perhaps we're not as dedicated to our faith here as we should be.
Every night, at the City of Hope complex, the girls there would pray the Rosary and welcomed us to join them. Seeing how the girls all gathered together and practised their faith and welcomed us into that practice with open arms was truly a wonderful experience. I learned a lot from them and also feel that my faith has been strengthened by witnessing the extent of theirs. Their dedication to their faith was even evident on shop fronts as most had names relating to God!
The people were all very kind and warm. It didn't matter to them that we were strangers and came from a different country—they welcomed us and treated us as if we were one of them, it was very heartwarming. In our country we are perhaps a bit more reserved, especially when it comes to people we don't know, so I think we could learn something from the way we were treated in Zambia.
Something that made a huge impact on me was when we went to a home for disabled children. Even though they were all there for the same reason and they all had their struggles, they treated each other like family. The older children took care of the younger children despite their disabilities and it really left a big impression on me. All the children were quite young and to see them help each other was so moving. It was a bittersweet place. It was sad as some of the children had parents who were unable to take care of them so they had to be sent somewhere else, but it was a good thing as they are now in a place where they can be taken care of. The nuns who run it are also volunteers and came all the way from India, which is very inspirational and it let me see that there is still a great deal of kindness in the world. Even though it was a difficult place to visit—as you couldn't help but feel sorry for the children—it was also really fun as we taught the kids to sing some songs like Head, shoulders, knees and toes, which they loved and had a great time dancing to with us.
The best part of the whole trip was just having fun with the children. Wherever we went, they were always so open and welcoming. I played sports with some of them, I talked about where I came from and I had so many laughs with them. I also enjoyed the fact that everywhere we went was so varied. We visited schools, a disabled children's home and an HIV/AIDS clinic for example. These places were all ran in very different ways and we met loads of different people because of that. We met children of all ages too and as I've said, we were warmly welcomed everywhere we went.
This mission experience was wonderful and I would love to do something like this again in the future. I would encourage anyone who is given the opportunity to do something like this, to go for it.