Organization: Iris Global / Harvest School
Dates: 1-Jun-12 - 10-Aug-12
In Ellen's own words
How I contributed: Iris Global is a Christian mission organization, but unlike other religious organizations I have worked with, their goal is to first and foremost demonstrate love in a tangible way. Religion is worthless if it does not positively impact lives. My most meaningful contribution to this goal was to befriend and interact with locals; instead of coming in with solutions, I came in to learn. This was how I learned the language. Iris's approach is very holistic and very broad, so I also contributed by caring for children at the orphanage, teaching widows how to sew, teaching English, working with the well-drilling team, building relationships to help women out of prostitution, and working at the village feeding program.
What I felt most challenged by: I was very challenged by the living conditions. I was living in a house with thirteen other people. Occasionally we had running water and the electricity worked about 70% of the time. I learned to bucket shower and pack 5 gallon buckets of water up a hill on my head. But this was also the most rewarding part of the experience, because even though it was challenging, my living conditions were so much better than the people I was working with. It really helped to put things in perspective.
What I enjoyed most: I spent a weekend in the village outside the base at the home of a widow Iris employs. I slept in a crumbling mud hut and learned to cook several traditional Mozambican meals. It was a very powerful experience.
Would I recommend this experience: Yes. However, there is a strong religious component so I would not recommend it to anyone who does not identify as Christian. It was easily the most life-changing experience I have had.