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Ladies Trip 2017 / A Life-Changing Trip

Sarah Higgs, a Trustee of The Dust Project, describes what it meant to her to participate in a volunteers trip...

On 15th January 2017, I embarked on my first charity mission trip to Sri Lanka, representing The Dust Project. It was to be a life changing experience. The country’s war-torn Northern Province, Jaffna, was our home for 10 days.

The Dust Project works in unison with another charity called The Palaam Project, which has established itself there for the past 20 years. They have set up a church, school and children’s home, amongst other premises. This has provided the children with a future, which grants them hope. Their noble reputation in the community has earned the trust of the local people and because of them we are able to accomplish our work in the area.

During the trip, I met many children and families who had been affected by tragic circumstances, such as losing their father in the war or their mother being too mentally ill to take care of them. Many live in improvised shelters; made from whatever material they could obtain, at the risk of exposure to snakes and scorpions. Their toilet is public space and their water is collected from a pump. Others live in the children’s home or on the streets. However, you would never know they are subjected to that because they emanate joy and have a remarkable zest for life. I can honestly say that despite their circumstances, figuratively they are richer and stronger than those who literally are, in our western civilization. They are content with the little they have.

My sister sent me a message towards the end of the trip saying ‘I bet you wish you could bring all the children home with you’, my reply was, although I want them to have the safety and protection of a home, they are actually better off there because they are shielded from the corruption of developed countries, who have technology and the media to contend with. Thanks to Palaam, these children are being cared for in a loving environment, away from the distractions we face in western society. Their attitudes are positive and studious, without protest. It emphasized how we excessively complain in our society, about the most trivial occurrences and how needless it is.

This experience has renewed my mind and given me a fresh outlook. It has prompted me to change they way we do things in our home and how we bring up the children. The two families we blessed with newly built and painted homes were overwhelmed with gratitude, yet, they don’t realise that I am equally grateful to them for their generosity of spirit. Furthermore, imparting to me that nothing is actually everything!

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