VMM International’s presence in West Africa, establishing deep relationships with our partner organisations and the people, was interrupted by the Ebola outbreak. Funded by Misean Cara, our volunteer Jeana Baker recently arrived on a mission to review VMM’s projects in Sierra Leone and experienced this land of warm welcome and shared experience.
I set out in late September to Sierra Leone. This being my first VMM assignment, I had no idea what to expect from my placement. My initial thought was to refrain from setting any expectation at all.
Arriving at the end of rainy season, I found myself in the thick of the vegetation and warm, sticky air. Because I felt ‘at home’ with the people, it did not take long till I comfortably made my nest in the stunning hills of the University of Makeni campus.
I will say that I have never before experienced such a heartfelt welcome into an organisation since joining the VMM family. And now I have come to realise that there is an intense sense of ‘family’ throughout our partners.
Despite Sierra Leone’s cruel past, I am again overcome with awe to witness such genuine, humble people. The University of Makeni’s motto is: ‘Building a Civilisation of Love’. What a powerful message to foster in the minds of young university students. The other heartening thing I noted, at the centre of Makeni town, is a giant heart sculpture. Indeed, there is no shortage of ‘heart’ here!
Service with Purpose at the Heart of VMM
In the field, I am gathering insightful feedback from my reviews of past projects with our partners at UNIMAK, St Joseph’s School for the hearing impaired, St John of God’s Nursing School, Holy Spirit Hospital and Caritas Makeni. I am finding that VMM projects are making a difference in the lives of Sierra Leoneans, and VMs are truly leaving legacies. I attribute this good work to VMM’s strong faith-based values and the power of service with purpose!
If I could get to the ‘heart’ of the VMM experience, I would say that it’s that ‘at home’ feeling that VMs experience in their placements when it comes to the sharing these values:
- God at the centre of our Development Service
- Who we are and not just what we have
- Capacity Transfer of knowledge and skills
- Cross-cultural exchange with our counterparts
The Values of Sharing Reap High Dividends
Truly our service extends beyond the day-to-day struggle of survival and lies deep at the core of sharing common beliefs, meaningful work and serving with purpose.
No matter how long it takes just to retrieve money at ATMs, endure the uncomfortable bush taxi rides, wait for painstakingly slow wi-fi, and to walk on rocky, dirt roads with the proverbial African sun beating down on you, you say to yourself: ‘There is no other place I would rather be!’
Life is bliss!
Keep calm and serve on!
by Jeana Baker