Blogs / 19.10.2023
John Harvey tells us about his charity expedition to Zambia
John Harvey, National Account Manager for Steamplicity – part of Compass Group UK & Ireland recently went on the trip of a lifetime - a charity expedition to Zambia. Here he worked with a team of volunteers to support children by carrying out tasks such as painting buildings, delivering food safety advice sessions and installing sinks.
Here he tells us about the experience.
What was your motivation?
An opportunity arose to fulfil a dream of a lifetime - to visit Africa and work with volunteers who are actually making a difference to people, that are in genuine need. I wanted to push myself and see what we could achieve together. A challenge that would benefit others.
What did you do?
My wife and I joined a group of volunteers. We spent two weeks working with an NGO called Eden Farm, part of the Life Support Ministries Group. Eden Farm is a children’s village based in Zambia, focused on helping people in the local community. In January 2008, Eden Farm was donated to an organisation called Life Support. The farm had once been a thriving business but had been abandoned and lay in disrepair. The charity was determined to build a children’s village to look after orphaned or vulnerable children.
They provide a primary and secondary school education for children who are willing to walk 1½ miles to get to school, with many of them having not been fed since lunchtime the day before. There is a lot of children there whose parents have either died or are unable to cope – so need the help of this fantastic organisation.
Within the village there are six children’s homes, which provide a space for 6-8 children to live in each and with their own ‘house mum’, who helps them on a day-to-day basis.
What did you achieve?
The work we did included delivering talks on food safety, building sinks in the houses, I painted some of the buildings and we equipped the secondary school with items like calculators.
“Knowledge is power” wise words from one of the house mums, when she'd received her first ever food safety training. I was so pleased to be able to help with the basics that can be delivered there on a practical level. We talked about washing hands before meals, making sure the food is served piping hot and keeping the flies away. My proudest moment is when we thought of using big water bottles to protect the food, by cutting them in half and placing them over the top. I am so pleased I was able to pass on some of my knowledge from my role here at Compass.
What did you learn?
The Zambian people are warm, welcoming and generous. One of the best things for me was playing games with the children and learning more about their way of life.
There are so many needs when you visit a place like this, it is hard to understand the priorities. Wisdom is needed, as to as to where to start helping. With the guidance of the charity, we made significant changes that will overall bring marginal gains. For me, this has given me such a deep appreciation of the value of small and simple things in life.
Zambia is an amazing place full of contrasts and I couldn’t have hoped to meet more amazing people in an amazing place. Now I am looking forward to my next adventure!
Volunteering is an important part of Compass’ Mission to A Million commitment, which promises to positively impact 1 million lives from within the organisation and externally, by 2030.