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Building A House Of Hope: A Retrospective

Thoughts on my trip to South Africa ...


POSTED BY JAKE STUBBS ON 20/11/2017 @ 8:00AM

I've been back from South Africa for a couple of weeks now and adjusting to life in the office. Roger asked me to write up my thoughts on my trip to build the House of Hope. Well, short answer, it was amazing ...

My trip to South Africa to build a House of Hope will stay with me forever!

My trip to South Africa to build a House of Hope will stay with me forever!

The long answer would be that having the opportunity to do something to benefit others gave me a great sense of wellbeing. Putting a roof over the heads of some wonderful kids is something that will stay with me forever, and I do hope to return one day to see how they're getting on.

"From day one we were onsite working!"

It wasn't an easy gig. We flew out, unpacked and went straight up to the building site to see what needed to be done. We met all the local builders and talked through our tasks each day.

After a good night's sleep and breakfast, we grabbed our wheelbarrows and spent the day moving stones out of the site and sand into it. The foundations were dug out and the concrete poured and we were set free for the day to let it dry.

"The following day, it was the turn
of the bricks!"

We spent all day wheelbarrowing them up the hill, and they were laid into the walls almost as soon as we got them there. The builders were so efficient it was amazing to watch.

As the walls got higher, we back-washed the brickwork and sanded it all down so none of the kids would catch themselves on sharp corners when they moved in.

A major task was to dig out space for fresh water tank and even with shovels and picks it took all day to get it done. Wow, that ground was solid, but we got there in the end and took great pleasure as we watched it being plumbed in.

The brickwork was complete, and we helped put on the roof, painted the building inside and out and mounted the doors and windows so that by the end of our trip, it was complete and ready for the kids to move in.

"And what about our free time?"

I think that's the stuff that I'll remember the most. My crew and I had the opportunity to spend time with local kids at school, helping them with their homework and playing football with them.

They're all very hard workers and incredibly bright. I know that some of them will go onto great things and help their community in their own way in future.

We did food drops to local families and the delight on their faces was apparent. It's not easy living in rural South Africa and being able to help local people was very satisfying.

We managed to get away on trips too. A huge hike to the highest pub in the whole of Africa took all of one morning and the off-roading back down was fun. Heading out on safari to see the indigenous wildlife was incredible, though we had to keep well away from the hippopotamus' because they were quite cranky and hugely dangerous.

"And now I'm back?"

The two weeks I spent in South Africa building the House Of Hope was undoubtedly the best of my life so far. I learned so many new hands-on skills and never imagined I could help to build a house.

The trip also taught me about working under pressure and planning in detail to enable a project to flow freely to completion. Working in a team, allocating resources and reacting to situations that arose along the way are all vital skills I bring home with me and apply to my life back here in the United Kingdom.

I suppose I'm classed as a Millenial because of my age so I will say this: if you work for an employer who understands our need for social responsibility then you, like me, are incredibly lucky. When Roger first offered to sponsor the trip I jumped at the chance to help others and will always be grateful for the opportunity.

Despite being orphans, and even in the face of poverty in rural South Africa, I will remember the kids the most; their intelligence, their desire to learn and their determination to better themselves and help their families.

But most of all I will remember their massive smiles when we showed them their brand new home at the House of Hope.

Until next time ...



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More about Jake Stubbs ...

Jake is currently studying towards his AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) qualification and is part of the accounts team at Essendon, assisting with accounts preparation, CIS returns, VAT returns, personal tax returns and anything else that he can help with!

When Jake is not at work or studying, his spare time is mostly taken up by sporting activities, whether that be playing or watching football.

Jake has always had the hope he could take part in charity work and contribute to helping others. Thanks to Essendon, Jake can now fulfil that and provide support for those who need it most.