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Overseas volunteering can restore hope on Island Bermuda Overseas Missions leader

Volunteering overseas can also restore hope locally, Bermuda Overseas Missions president David Thompson told Hamilton Rotary Club.

Mr Thompson was reporting on BOM’s latest mission, in which a Bermuda team of 45 helped build homes in the Zambian village of Chipulukusu.

To date, more than 400 people from the Island have taken part the organisation’s nine years of house-building around the world.

“Lately we’ve seen problems with violence in our own community,” Mr Thompson said. “If there were more organisations around that could direct people into this kind of work, it would go a long way for Bermuda.”

Eight new houses were built in Chipulukusu between July 18 and August 3, as part of BOM’s ongoing partnership with the international charity Habitat for Humanity.

“A real cross-section of Bermuda took part,” Mr Thompson said. “Our youngest volunteer was 14, and our eldest was 47.”

The Bermuda team built bricks by mixing cement with the fine clay powder taken from ant hills.

“I am an accountant by trade; these are soft hands,” Mr Thompson said. “But you learn. You go with a servant’s attitude.”

An impoverished community in Zambia’s Copperbelt Province, Chipulukusu had been hard-hit by HIV, and a fall in demand for copper.

Mr Thompson described it as “a society where grandparents bring up their grandkids, not because mom and dad are absent doing other things, but because they’re dead”.

However, he said, in spite of the hardships encountered by the Bermuda team, “people have what I call the ‘Ah’ factor”.

“The people that come back are changed. You see it particularly with the young volunteers. You see their facial expression change, when all of a sudden they get it.”

Houses cost about $5,000 to build roughly the same as volunteers paid to go on the mission. Sixty percent paid their own way entirely, with Bermuda donations and BOM fundraising covering the remainder.

BOM plans to announce its next overseas project in December, Mr Thompson said.

l Useful web site: www.bom.bm

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Published September 10, 2011 at 8:30 am (Updated September 10, 2011 at 8:30 am)

Overseas volunteering can restore hope on Island Bermuda Overseas Missions leader

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