I visited Zambia in 2012 and was lucky enough to spend a morning travelling around Mazabuka with four healthcare assistants, who managed and cared for a community in which over 20% of the population was affected by AIDS and HIV-related illnesses. For the first time in my life, I was confronted head on by genuine poverty and the realisation that universal access to high quality healthcare was something that I was incredibly lucky to have.
Will with students at the school
Another 2012 advocate, Will, also took part in this experience and was deeply humbled by the care these women showed to their neighbours, as well as the lack of healthcare and medical assistance available to those in need. These women were not paid for their work, but supported their community due to a sense of vocation and love. Will went on to study medicine at Bristol University, and many of his choices in his career so far have undoubtedly been motivated by his time in Zambia.
While in the UK, we are able to rely on the NHS for medical help whenever we need it, those in developing countries are often not able to access any level of care for a variety of economic or geographical reasons. This desire to make a difference to those most in need led Will to spend time using his medical skills in both Uganda and in the Trauma and Anaesthetic departments of a hospital in Johannesburg during his studies. In the future, he hopes to be able to return to Mazabuka to support medical efforts in the area.
Students with Abi, Seb and Will in 2012
Abi also visited Zambia in 2012, an experience which sparked an interest in global development. It is difficult not to see the stark differences between life in Farnborough and in Mazabuka without feeling a sense of injustice and a desire to make a change. Abi went on to read International History at the London School of Economics and the direction of her studies was directed by her experiences in Zambia. Abi has since worked with several charities, including WaterAid and Advocates for International Development, as well as returning to work with Share the Light in Zambia.
Similarly, Seb’s future path was shaped by his time in Zambia. After his first visit in 2012, he returned several times to volunteer at the City of Joy. While at university, he became focused on International Development and Humanitarian Studies, and much of his work for his degree became closely linked to Zambia. Since graduating, Seb has returned to Zambia and now lives there permanently. He works with several NGOs and is a regular volunteer at the City of Joy.
Seb with Muyunda and Sophie in 2012
The advocate programme is a key part of our work, and it is vital to us that we create and inspire advocates for the developing world. By spending time with those we support, our relationships with the local community are strengthened, and our advocates develop a keen awareness of how best Share the Light can work to best offer help. We hope to enable those we work with to achieve their goals and ambitions by giving them the tools and resources they need to make that happen. Similarly, our advocates are often inspired to look at career paths that will allow them to make a positive change on both a small and larger scale.
We are always looking to increase the support we are able to offer. If you would like to help, please visit sharethelight.uk
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Read the other articles in this series: