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By the young, for the young: advocates for the developing world

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Sophie Astles continues our series of articles from Share the Light, a charity created from the projects and links developed by the staff and students of Salesian College Farnborough with young people in Zambia.


One of our key objectives at Share the Light is to develop young people who are articulate, informed and personally engaged 'advocates' for the developing world. This dates back to the first trip from Salesian College Farnborough to Mazabuka in 2012, and since then, the advocate programme has been a central part of the work carried out by Share the Light. It ensures that close links are maintained between the charity, the community and the projects we support, and helps engender a sense of investment in the success of our work. Our aim is to work with those we support and tailor our projects by listening and responding to the community, in order to provide assistance where it is most needed. Our advocates programme helps us to strengthen the ties that make this possible.


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Scott working with a student

However, as in any relationship, the benefits are two-way and our advocates' outlooks on the world are often shaped by their experiences in Zambia. Scott visited Mazabuka in 2014, and sums up the contrast between his expectations and the reality:

"It is safe to say I had a fairly naïve approach to volunteering. In my mind, I was this amazing individual, heading out to another country to help others less fortunate than myself. Unsurprisingly, I was significantly mistaken. The idea that I was helping people with less than myself quickly got turned upside down – the reality was that the girls in the City of Joy were full of happiness and had an incredible appreciation of life. Call it youthful ignorance, but it just didn’t add up in my head.

"I realised that no matter the difficult pasts they might have had, or the material provisions they lacked, in the City of Joy all the girls had a caring family and home. This family cohesion and their shared faith meant the girls actually had something of incredible value in their lives. My privileged background meant that I took the value of family for granted and unfortunately didn’t see it as a source of joy in the way the girls did. With this realisation, my perspective as an advocate significantly changed. My role as a volunteer and advocate was not to go out there and give anything specific, but rather to help maintain and support the amazing project already present in the City of Joy.


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Dinner at City of Joy

"In reality, I left not having given to those who I had assumed had less than me, but having received so much. I gained a taste of a purer joy than any I had previously known. The experience proved to me that happiness does not depend on what you have, and the memories I’ve retained of the girls joyfully singing every day are evidence of this. It is this gift that I received, and witnessing the girl’s passion for education that has motivated me to strive for young people around the world to receive the opportunities we can sometimes take for granted."

Following his experience in Zambia, Scott has gone on to volunteer in South Africa, working in an orphanage to provide pastoral and educational support. Other advocates have been inspired to pursue careers in areas such as education and medicine. Seb, our first advocate trustee, has even made the permanent move to Zambia.


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Scott with some of the girls at City of Joy

No matter what their future path turns out to be, all of our advocates are impacted by their experiences in Zambia, and return with a more nuanced understanding of Share the Light's role in supporting the local community in Mazabuka, as well as a personal stake in ensuring that we are able to continue our work. More broadly, like Scott, they often come home with a greater appreciation for their own lives and the opportunities that are afforded to them, as well as a passion to help create similar opportunities for those in the developing world. All of our advocates are self-funded, in addition to raising funds to support Share the Light both prior to and in the years after their trips. We hope that in the next few years, the charity will be 100% advocate-led, fulfilling our mission statement of being a charity 'by the young, for the young.'

We are constantly looking to expand the support we offer, if you would like to help us, please visit for more information.


Sophie Astles

Share the Light


Read the previous article here


Last modified on Thursday, 01 November 2018 12:20


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