Developer Paul Trownson reflects on his visit to Zambia working with Hands Around the World.

The opportunity to travel to Africa for two weeks and make a difference to another community is something that doesn’t happen very often and Never in a million years did I think my name would be pulled out of the hat. But yet it did. My first emotion was excitement but then the stark realisation actually hit me… I know nothing about Zambia and extremely little about Africa itself.

No amount of research or listening to anyone else’s experiences could prepare me for what would be an adventure of a lifetime. The journey to Zambia was long and arduous, 40 hours from A to B. I remember seeing the country for the first time 10000 feet in the air and I was amazed, it was so green, which turned my original perception of Africa on its head. We touched down in Lusaka, there were quite a lot of big shops and retail outlets with huge advertisement boards. When travelling by road from Lusaka to Monze I noticed a lot of street merchants, even a guy holding a fish up into the road in an attempt to sell it. The further we travelled from Lusaka the more ‘run down’ things looked.

Finally arriving at the Relax Guest House and to my relief it had electricity and Air Conditioning, only to find out that the A/C wasn’t working, luckily my room had a fan. I awoke bright and early the next morning to my first full day in the country. After breakfast, we proceeded to Pizz School, on the way to the school all the locals were very friendly and keen to say hello. At the school, we met with Mrs Sianga and Killian. We spoke for a while about the mission. We then went outside to meet the children from younger grades whilst they were eating. I was astounded to see they all just seemed so happy, despite some of them having to eat with a pencil instead of a fork. Looking back, I realise these children are just grateful to have what they have and don’t expect the luxuries you or I are both accustomed to.

Looking around the school there were countless tasks that could have been done to improve these young people’s surroundings. More than work that could be done in my two weeks visit that is for sure. From learning and singing nursery rhymes and chants to playing ball games, seeing the children enjoying life and the freedom they have despite the problems and challenges they face made running the holiday club for those two weeks was a truly lifechanging experience, I’ve never been involved anything quite like it. But that wasn’t all I did out there. Using the skills I already have is something I really wanted to do and being from a tech background I was able to utilise these and connect the school to the internet and the rest of the World. I was given a piece of Hardware that looked like a router, no instructions and a box full of old cables. I noticed there was a sim card slot and managed to obtain a sim card and credit. Bringing people together and making their lives easier is something I do daily at Vanilla and doing that in a completely different context for people who expect nothing was a heart-warming experience to say the very least. I also tried my hand at painting and decorating, I’m no Picasso but I gave it go.

Visiting the homes of the orphaned and vulnerable people HATW aid was a really thought-provoking experience. Seeing people with nothing, but happy none the less makes you realise just how materialistic the rest of the World is becoming. Visiting Zambia taught me a lot about how other parts of the worlds live and it was a great honour to go and help with the schools.

Finally, I would just like to thank Vanilla and HATW for giving me the opportunity to go to Zambia, it was such an amazing experience and one I’ll never forget.

To donate to HATW or if you’d like to get involved definitely visit the Hands Around the World Website HERE  for more information.