How HANDS AROUND THE WORLD changed my life
Many past HATW volunteers will have met Alan Stephens, Mandy's husband, a loyal and enthusiastic supporter and one of our most frequent volunteers.
Sadly Alan died on 8 August 2006, but a few weeks before, he wrote this moving piece for our newsletter:
HOW HATW CHANGED MY LIFE
I didn’t really understand what David meant when he said that HATW volunteers shouldn’t go out unless they were prepared to come back changed in some way; after all, I was only going to do some building work which was what I did as a living anyway, so what was the problem?
Right from the start, from my first project in India, I quickly realized there was more than building work to think about; their poverty really affected me and I had to somehow make a difference. I went on to do other projects in Brazil and Africa and each time it challenged me to see how people in the developing world coped in such desperate circumstances; it opened my eyes and made me see things differently, and made me think more about their welfare. Thanks to HATW and the friends I had made in the places I worked, I was beginning to understand a little better some of the reasons why their lives were so difficult; it made me think, and it made me look hard at myself and my lifestyle.
Working on the projects also showed me my strengths and weaknesses, improved my self confidence and gave me a keener sense of injustice and the motivation to do something about it. The things I do to try and stop injustices, or to make changes to my lifestyle, might only be little things, but I know that it can ultimately help someone in the developing world. For example, just by buying fairtrade goods I know I am helping farmers in the developing world towards a better standard of living for them and their families.
I had always thought of myself as a caring person, but it took HATW to put my life into perspective, help me find out who I really was, how to develop that caring to a deeper level, and help me to actively make that difference I had always wanted to.Last Updated: 07/11/2011 Updated By: David