Transformative Reflections. Volunteering in East Africa with Edmund Rice Foundation Australia.

 

In a recent two-week journey with Edmund Rice Foundation Australia (ERFA), our ‘Gone Fishing Trip’ in East Africa proved to be an eye-opening and humbling experience. We delved into the heart of Nairobi, specifically the slums of Mukuru and Kibera, witnessing firsthand the stark realities of living conditions.

Meeting families and small business owners (beneficiaries of ERFA), highlighted the resilience, strength, and soul of these local communities. The initial overwhelm and challenge I felt upon arrival turned into admiration for the positive impact ERFA is making in partnership with those in need.

The devastating living conditions underscored the privilege we have in Australia, with access to secure housing, clean running water, basic sanitation, healthcare, education, and safety. Yet, amidst these challenges, the spirit of the local communities shone through, leaving a lasting mark on our hearts.

EFRA is an international development organisation which supports sustainable community-based education programs in developing countries and projects for marginalised and disadvantaged groups in Australia.  Liberating lives through education, as it has the power to change everything, they truly live the premise that “you can give a person a fish and they will eat for a day – teach a person how to fish and they will eat for a lifetime”.

ERFA’s projects, ranging from advocacy, safeguarding, daycare and schooling to maternal care and vocational training, impressed me with their commitment to creating long-term systemic and generational change. Witnessing the dedication of leaders, teachers, and healthcare workers highlighted the tireless efforts to make a positive difference in their community.

The smiles, generosity of spirit, entrepreneurship, and resourcefulness of the locals emphasised the power of community and the ability to make every cent count. Even my time in the majestic landscape of the Maasai Mara and its wildlife couldn’t overshadow the profound impact of our interactions with the local people.

  • My learnings from this immersion experience extend beyond my years of volunteering. No amount of preparation could fully ready me for the depth of the challenges faced by these communities.

• The trip reinforced the notion that constraint forces innovation and adaptability, qualities exemplified by the exceptional team at ERFA.

• Patience, tenacity, and concerted effort were evident throughout the journey, highlighting the truth that they can truly change lives. The experience underscored the importance of long-term systemic change, emphasising its profound impact on future generations.

• The impact of collaborative partnerships. Witnessing the synergy between ERFA, the 500 Supporters Group and BildGroup showcased the transformative power of long-term collective efforts. This experience highlighted the importance of fostering partnerships to create lasting impact and uplift communities in need.

• The crucial role each member of our BildGroup family plays in the systemic and generation change occurring in Mukuru and Kibera. We should be proud that our continued success as a company enables us to make a positive difference to those in need.

• Ultimately, the trip taught me not to sweat the small stuff, focusing instead on the transformative power of collective effort in creating lasting change.

  • A heartfelt thankyou to the ERFA teams in Australia and at each project in Nairobi for their unwavering dedication and inspiring work.
  • Special thanks to BildGroup for their long-term support of ERFA and for providing me the opportunity to participate in this meaningful experience.   Collaborative support and long-term commitment from organisations like BildGroup amplify the positive change we can achieve together.