1)     To assist young people going on short term mission trips with Christian agencies, which are in agreement with the ethos of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.

 

Criteria:

 

a)     The maximum amount available to any individual is £500.

b)     A young person may only receive one grant from the fund.

c)      The young person must be a member of a Presbyterian congregation

d)     The young person must be aged 18-25 years old.

e)     Only one application will be considered per team or project and the application must be signed by the team leader.

f)      In the case of a team application the maximum amount available will be £600 and must be distributed equally amongst all eligible team members.

g)     The fund is not available to help towards university electives, work experience placements or Bible college training.

h)     YAC Overseas teams will receive the maximum grant each year. The money will be transferred internally and used to reduce the cost of our teams to participants.

i)       The young person must apply for their grant before 1 March if they are going that summer (June, July and August) and if outside that time then they must apply 3 months prior to going.

 

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This year I felt God was calling me to take a break from University and serve him abroad, at the time I wasn’t quite sure what that looked like but I ended up volunteering with two great organisations which were Tearfund and Stand by Me.

Stand by Me are an incredible organization who help many children and young people around the world to be able to get an education and have a safe environment where they receive the love and care which every child should experience. I went to their home in Hetuada which is in Nepal for two months and I had the most incredible experience.

In the home there are approximately 110 very beautiful and hilariously funny sponsored children (many who still need loving sponsors). I was working along side the sponsorship coordinator helping with daily tasks as well as trying to help improve methods of working to ensure the job is done as best as possible to benefit the children.

A lot of my work was office based however I always had plenty of hours in the day to fit in lots of play time with all of the children who never seem to run out of energy! I got to know the children really well and they have become like an extension of my family, I even miss their early morning wake up calls to come out and play!

I learn so much from everyone I met during my time in Hetauda and even the youngest of the children at 5 was such an inspiration to me and they have completely changed my outlook on life. I didn’t expect to be so encouraged and motivated by such little children and I guess it just proves that God can use anyone of any age and will use them in incredible ways which most people won’t even realise!

I really wasn’t expecting to fall in love with this place even half as much as ended up happening and despite my mosquito ‘kisses’ as all of the children called them I hope to return to Nepal in the near future so I can see all of the children’s brilliant smiles again and hopefully be able to help Stand by Me in their future plans for the hostel.

The carers of the children are incredible people and from them I learnt so much about looking after the children as well as how they are trying to show God’s love in everything that they do. It is so evident that God is at work in this place and the carers bring such fun to the hostel as well as being incredible witnesses for the children and the wider community.

The work that Stand by Me is doing in Nepal is making such an incredible difference to the children’s lives. All of the children know how important and valuable education is and I have never met children who work so hard and are so grateful for the chance to receive such a good education.

I ask that you continue to pray for the work of Stand by Me all over the world but in particular Nepal where I know your prayers are very much valued.

I will never forget my time in Nepal and God certainly used it to help me to readjust my priorities and to see his precious children in a different light.

We left Monaghan early on Saturday the 21st June to Dublin airport to begin the journey to the USA that

would impact all of us in one way or another.

 

After worshipping in Briarwood Presbyterian church on Sunday we rested up before beginning a hectic two weeks of serving God.  Check out our report HERE.

On the 3rd September 2013, thanks to the support of the PCI Concorde fund, I went on my way to Nigeria. Specifically, I was going to small village called Ogugu to work for a NGO called Advance, a mission organization which mainly focuses on helping those living with HIV and AIDS and it also runs a child sponsorship scheme that assists orphans and vulnerable children. I was excited and optimistic as I got on the plane with my colleague for the next 10 months, but in reality, I was unsure of what exactly I was going to be doing for the duration of my stay.
After facing the challenges of African roads head on, we arrived at Advance's Donegore Centre and settled into what was to be our new life. Already working in Ogugu was a missionary couple; Richard and Laura Morrison. Laura was back in Northern Ireland as she was due to give birth in November while Richard had stayed behind an extra week or two to finish off some of his work and tie up any loose ends. When he left, we were thrown right into the deep end. Apart from our two Nigerian coworkers, we were on our own in Ogugu. I was taking over from Richards work of coordinating the child sponsorship programme known as Circle of Hope. What Circle of Hope does is allows vulnerabe children to go to school by paying for their school fees, it also takes care of all and any medical bills the child needs paid as well as providing them with approximately 8 weeks worth of food throughout the year. Most importantly, Circle of Hope takes great care in helping all the children on the programme  with their spiritual development.
I had never done anything like this before and to be handed the responsibility of something that affected so many lives was a daunting thought, however with time, I settled into my new role. My main responsibilities were doing 4 bible studies a week in different schools and then at the centre as well as making sure all payments to the schools were kept up to date. Visiting the children at their homes was also a very important part of my role; making sure they had enough to eat, that the children weren't being abused in any way, ensuring that they were healthy and had clean water to drink and simply to get to know the children and families a bit better. Unfortunately, a lot of my time was spent driving to and from and staying with children in the hospitals, an experience that really opened my eyes to how fortunate we are with the standard of health care available to us.
Before I left to go to Nigeria, I received my First Aid qualification from the Royal Life Saving Society. I decided, after seeing the complete lack of knowledge about this, to hold my own First Aid classes with the intent of training key members in the community. I began by teaching teachers of the local primary and secondary schools, focusing on how to perform effective first aid with the resources that were locally available. For example, how to make slings with t-shirts and African cloth and how to make a splint using a palm tree branch or the stem of a banana tree leaf, as well as all the other basic First Aid. After I had taught all the teachers who were willing to participate, I offered classes to the youth of the surrounding churches and was pleasantly surprised at the reaction and willingness of the teenagers to get involved and learn how to perform first aid. It was fantastic to hear that one of the youth who I had trained was the first on scene at a motor bike accident in which the driver, who wasn't wearing a helmet, had badly split his forehead open. The young man was then able to stop the bleed from the drivers forehead and treat him for shock while they waited for a car to take them to hospital.
Another part of my time spent in Nigeria was used to teach at a nearby Theological college. Being a theology student myself seemingly qualified me to get involved in that and I was given the topics "The church" and "Eschatology." I enjoyed doing the teaching, although, I'm not sure the students in my classes would say the same thing.

This summer I travelled out to Thailand as part of a team of 6 to volunteer with a charity called Siam Care for 4 weeks. Siam Care is a Christian charity, whose vision is “to witness marginalised and at risk children, families and communities holistically transformed and stigma free”. They work by providing access to health care and medication, education scholarships, psychosocial support, legal rights, child protection, spiritual transformation, and HIV awareness. They work in 3 areas in Thailand; Mukdahan, Bangkok and Phang Na.

 

Read her report about her experience HERE.

2 years previously Edengrove sent a team out to Santaul Mic (Kisszánto in Hungarian). Many of us from the first venture were on the team this time also, though there were plenty of new faces on the team. The team of 19 also consisted of some members from Kilmore Presbyterian church. After a couple of days in Budapest for the team to get to know one another it was on to the Hungarian village (in Romania).The mornings were filled by our holiday Bible club for the children. The numbers reached 55 children at their highest (Population of Kisszánto is around 400); a number of children were coming from the neighbouring villages to augment the numbers; word travelled fast. The club consisted of songs and memory verses, stories from the bible, games and crafts as well as some time for prayer. The evenings were focused more for teenagers and young adults. It was largely split into two groups; crafts such as bracelet making and then sports like football. After a few hours of this, we would then light a bonfire and come together whilst members of the team got up each night to give testimonies and answer questions. In addition to these activities we also ran a number of other events. The village recently set up a bowling club and we featured a bowls night in the community centre where they proved to have gotten rather good at it. We ran a culture night where we told them about Northern Ireland and our culture; the waves of troy and a number of songs also featured. We were involved in their church services (In the Hungarian Reformed Church) on both of the Sundays we were there. It was with much sadness that we had to say goodbye on the last day after an amazing time spent among so many wonderful and memorable people.