Ruth flies out in second mission to South Africa
2009: After eight months working with two Christian charities in South Africa, Ruth Barker, from Wymondham loved it so much that today (September 17) she is flying back for at least another two years. Here Ruth, who goes to Gateway Vineyard church in Norwich, writes about her experiences and why she is going back to Durban.
In September last year, I applied to go to Durban, South Africa to be an intern with two Christian charities, Scripture Union and Soul Survivor/Soul Action. I was accepted but needed to raise £4000 by Christmas to go.
Thanks to many generous donations and me saving money from my full-time job I managed to raise the funds I needed and in January I headed off to Durban to begin the eight months abroad.
I had the most amazing time and learnt a lot about a different culture and about myself, so much so that on September 17 I am flying back to Durban. I'm not sure how long I will be away for. As long as I'm happy and I feel its where God wants me then I will stay in Durban.
During my time working for Scripture Union I went to two secondary schools (Overport Secondary
and Ridge Park College
) and one primary school (Spingfield Model
) where I was a small team leader working with a around eight children per class teaching lifeskills.
In addition to this I did two camps with Overport Secondary School children, a holiday club where I had around 30 children and three leaders to supervise and a beauty camp for girls from Ridge Park College.
My time for Soul Survivor/Soul Action was meeting all the projects involved in the Soul in the City event which was scheduled in July. My role involved building relationships with the projects, helping eight specific projects on a more one to one basis and to get the paperwork needed for the July event onto a database.
In July we received 350 mainly young people from the UK and some from other countries in Durban and for two weeks they worked alongside the 25 projects involved in Soul in the City. The young people worked in local communities and did anything from building and practical work to holiday clubs and chatting to locals. My job during the two weeks was to visit all of the projects at least once and troubleshoot any problems.
I also took part in outreaches with two Christian rap groups who are now close friends. These were usually in a township called Newlands East. We would have a contact within the township and on a specific evening turn up at their house, plug into their electricity and then the guys would perform songs, somebody would give a word and there would be testimonies.
These evenings were some of the best nights I had in Durban. People in Newlands East are so friendly and welcoming. We would have children in their pyjamas, dancing and singing along to the music and often many people gave their lives to Jesus.
My church in Durban also did a blanket and food outreach in the city centre one evening in June. We gave out bryani (a traditional Indian dish), fruit, drinks and blankets to the people living on the streets.
We would give out the food and blankets and then pray and chat to them. We met one group in the city and a lady had a baby which she was sleeping rough with, heartbreaking.
Obviously it was very hard to see the poverty that exists in Durban. I visited many areas where people had no running water or electricity and their homes consisted of tiny brick walls, tin roofs and plastic sheeting.
The divide between rich and poor over there is massive and it’s hard to fully comprehend all we have when they have so little. There is so much to be done over there and my heart truly belongs to Africa after this life changing experience.
I was very blessed to meet some lovely people while I was there and gained many friends. I would definitely say Durban has become my second home… which is why I will be returning to Durban on September 17.
I will be volunteering for my church in Durban, called Heartlands. I am going to be helping out part-time to do some admin/secretarial work for the church and will also be my pastor’s PA. In the afternoon’s I hope to either do local community work with my church or volunteer in a local project with children.