Isaac Snow volunteered at St Ignatius Primary school in Tanzania, where he said the experience inspired him to pursue a career in humanitarian aid.
– What made you want to volunteer overseas with Jesuit Missions?
I studied at a Jesuit school, Wimbledon College, and because of this I spent one month working overseas in southern India for the impoverished Dalit caste. I realised the impact I could have as a volunteer and I saw the necessity of fighting poverty and injustice. I found that a month was way too short and was desperate to volunteer overseas again. I wanted to volunteer with JM as it is an incredible organisation, one that offers volunteers the chance to actually live another culture and to learn from another community.
– How did you find the experience?
The six months that I spent in Tanzania were the best of my life. I was able to live and work in a diverse country and I was able to make life long friendships with people in the community. I always felt valued as a volunteer by the local community and this helped me to grow in confidence as I learnt from the people around me. I urge anyone to undertake this type of long term volunteer experience where you can get to know the local people and the local culture. Tanzania truly felt like my home, and in the space of six months I had found a family there, Tanzanians are the most hospitable and welcoming people and they make you feel like you belong.
I feel that this sense of belonging is something that you would never get on a short term placement and JMV offers a unique experience. The reason that long term placements with Jesuit Missions are so amazing is that you never feel like you are visiting the country, you actually become immersed in the culture in the community and leave feeling like you are a local. In the end, six months feels like it is too short.
– Since finishing, what impression of life on placement has stayed with you?
The placement taught me about the value of happiness. I learnt how to live a full and happy lifestyle with just the bare necessities. I realised I did not need to constantly be connected to the internet and that I did not need material things to make me happy, instead I learnt to grow close to the people around me. My placement has also taught me to become more active in fighting poverty and injustice, and I have been inspired to take action within my own community.
– Has it affected your faith in any way?
In Tanzania, most people are religious, churches offer the chance for a social space and many peoples faith defines their community. Most of my friends and colleagues came from the same faith as me and I spent a great deal of time at the local parish, allowing me to grow closer to my faith. I also found that I had a chance to reflect on my faith and it became more personal for me. I was able to grow closer to God as I was in contact with a religious community and I saw the important role that faith plays in people’s lives.
Furthermore, I was humbled as I saw that faith offered support and hope to the poorest and most vulnerable people. It is something that holds people together in Tanzania, irrespective of people’s background, they are united by their faith and this is something I deeply admired.
Posted on 02nd December 2015