Seeing For Myself @hollylinda

Seeing for yourself (Image Credit: Jay Butcher/Tearfund)A few weeks ago, I was in Uganda on my first press trip for my work with Tearfund. Not only was this my first press trip, but also my first time in Africa, the first time I’d been to anywhere you would call ‘developing’, and the first time I ate goat (but that’s another story).

As with any new place you visit, I spent the first day of travelling with my eyes glued to the window. It was fascinating watching the city blur into town and blur into remote countryside. Not to mention the brilliant shop names we spotted such as ‘God is Great Snack Bar’ and ‘Hallelujah Hair Salon’.

After a few, very tightly compacted days of filming in the village we were visiting, it then began to sink in what I was actually looking at. These people I was laughing and speaking with were some of the most amazing people I’ve met, but they don’t have shoes. They have roofs that leak. Children that go hungry. Widows without land. Struggle after struggle, in post-war Uganda.

I think when I started to absorb what I had seen, my heart started to break for them. The stories we had heard over the two days were starting to sink in and it was eye-opening. People still live in extreme poverty in an age where many have so much. This shouldn’t be happening anymore.

I have worked for Tearfund for years now , and have been talking about issues of poverty and development for a long time, without ever really having seen it first hand. I realise now how abstract a concept poverty had been to me, and my eyes have been opened. To the way Tearfund works, to the power of the local church, to God’s miracles. Everything.

It’s this kind of reaction and connection which prompted Tearfund to come up with it’s new initiative, See For Yourself, the reason we were on the trip. When people give to charity, regularly or otherwise, very rarely will they ever be able to see first hand the effects their money is having on the cause they are supporting.

See For Yourself allows a supporter to journey with a community as they give monthly, and see for themselves the ups and downs of development in action and seeing exactly how their money is being spent. Using the power of technology and social media, supporters would receive a film from the community they have chosen to follow every three months, along with monthly prayer updates and news via email or mobile phone.

Supporters can choose to give £20 a month, the price of a family takeaway, to one of three communities in Uganda, Nepal or Peru – which are the representative communities for the work that the church is doing in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Not everyone will be able to travel to these remote places and meet with the poorest communities to learn about what life is really like for them, but technology is providing us the next best thing. Things might not always go to plan, but Tearfund is allowing people into the reality of development as it unfolds, and when things do go right, you will know that you are a part of that transformation.

The world has become smaller, more connected, and that just means that we are now even closer to the people that need the most help. See For Yourself harnesses the potential of our connected world, and uses it to change lives through the local church.

In Uganda, I saw just how changed lives can be through the work of the local church, and I think it’s something everybody needs to see, because now we can.

Tearfund has a lot more information about the See For Yourself and the communities you can follow, as well as many more films like the one above, so head over to www.seeforyourself.org.

About Holly Poulter

Holly Poulter works as a Press Officer for Christian international aid agency Tearfund, and runs an wedding and event planning business, 'Pretty, Please Events'. She lives in Surbiton, Surrey with her husband James and bi-polar cat. Big fan of popcorn, coffee and duvets.