I grew up on a farm 100kms north of Chinchilla. I am the eldest of four. In 2012, when I was 11, my family were given the opportunity to go and live in Mozambique for a year, through our church. We sponsored kids in the smaller country of Rwanda, so Mum and Dad had been to Africa before, to visit them, but this time around we all went. While we were there Dad worked in agricultural development and Mum worked at a health clinic.
I was confronted by the lack of health care in Africa. Most people don’t have the money for the travel just to get to a doctor, let alone pay the bribe to see one. While I was there I saw people die from easily preventable diseases, such as pneumonia and malaria. This changed my life.
Amongst these experiences, my family and I had the pleasure of meeting Carlos – A local Mozambican and a selfless, compassionate man. He started Rubatano, an organisation that cares for those affected by HIV and AIDS.
HIV is a virus that can often be managed with very good health care, but they don’t have good health care in most parts of Africa, so it usually progresses to the more serious and advanced version - AIDS. If you have HIV or AIDS especially, a simple illness such as the flu can be fatal, because your immune system is so worn down.
Rubatano also helps thousands of orphans living in child-headed households, communities who were victims of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. These people and their stories of hardship returned home to Australia with me, but ‘my heart was still in Africa’.
Now my dream is to work in medicine or allied health, to go back and not only provide health care but to train the locals and share my faith with them.
This year I am one step closer. In September, a team from my church is going to Mozambique. We have raised $22,000 - enough money to buy Rubatano a new vehicle and to help fund a new initiative, teaching the orphans more sustainable farming practices and other vocational training.
Three years after my first trip I am headed back, to reconnect with friends and contacts. My dad is coming too. We will be volunteering, helping people who suffer with HIV/AIDS as well as orphans in the community, something that’s been on my heart ever since I returned to life in Australia.
I have been selling photos I have taken and cooking meals for people in my hometown to raise the money that will take me back to Mozambique. I’ve had incredible support and in just over 3 weeks, I raised over $4,000 – more than I actually need!
With Chinchilla in an economic low, it’s a miracle I have been given this much money so quickly.
So the money I raise beyond this goes straight to Rubatano, to the orphans and HIV patients.
It has been a remarkable journey so far. I feel encouraged to chase my dream and I believe God is at work in my life. I am so thankful for the opportunity to go to Mozambique and I hope I can make a difference, because the people there have captured my heart!