Zain

Zain

I was lucky enough to be involved with Lasallian Projects in the summers of 2016 and 2017.

For my 1st project I was sent to Biiso, Uganda. A very underdeveloped region that as of 2016 the charity had only worked in for 1 year. As someone who had never even been a keen lego builder, I was under the impression that I would not be able to contribute in any significant way and was worried I would be slowing the builders down. In reality, I had underestimated myself and the kindness and patience of the Ugandan workers. By the end of the project I was confident in bricklaying, making beams, carrying timbers, hand mixing mortar and cement and carrying bricks all thanks to the encouragement of the locals and the feeling of camaraderie our group had with each other and with the builders. When 2017 rolled around I was itching to get back and experience another project. This time I was sent to Kaleo, Ghana. A region in which Lasallian Projects has been working for 25+ years. The contrast from Uganda was stark and amazing, to see what 25+ years of work can achieve for a community was amazing. Sometimes on project it can feel like the building is not going up fast enough or that your presense there is making very little impact. Seeing the differences in Biiso to Kaleo helped me realise that sustainable development takes time, thousands if hours of work and hundreds of volunteers. I felt extrodinarly humbled and lucky to be apart of it all.

However, the most rewarding part about both projects was not seeing the buildings go up, it was actually interacting and teaching the local community and children about ourselves. I say that we taught the locals about ourselves but it also worked both ways, we learnt lots about their ideas, hobbies, friends, games, lives and dreams. The children taught me that school should never have been taken for granted as these kids were so poor they could not afford the school uniforms and textbooks, so took turns sharing the only uniforms they had. They taught me that I didn’t need wi-fi or electronics to be happy, that sometimes a simple ball game can entertain for hours and hours on end. Most importantly, they taught me the value of community.

Nowadays my volunteering days are over as I am busy with my medical studies in Aberdeen! However I am still involved in helping run the annual charity ceilidh and have made life long friends from project that I talk to often. Working with LDWP has been one of the most challenging yet insanely rewarding things I could ever have hoped to do at such a young age, making it impossible for me to summarize in a paragraph, so I will end with this. If you reading this are apprehensive about doing similar work, no matter how old you are I strongly encourage you to try to get involved in someway or another and experience for yourself what a project is really about.