Gryphons Abroad is without doubt one of the best things I’ve ever done. There is nothing I could ever write that would accurately sum up the project, or describe the amazing experiences I had. The only way to understand is to apply and experience it for yourself; I just wish I could do it every year.
Although the fundraising target of £2,000 can seem daunting there is truly no need for it to be. Whilst it is an individual target, the rest of the team are more than willing to help you in any way they can. I made a quick start on my fundraising, and this definitely paid off. I started doing cake sales in the Edge, giving me a real starting point and a confidence boost. I also applied for a Leeds for Life grant and I was awarded £500, securing almost half of my target by doing just two things. To make sure that my fundraising didn’t impact on my uni work, I designated a few hours in the evenings to planning and for the rest of my events to take place during the weekend, that way I didn’t need to do any fundraising during weekdays. To top up my fundraising total, I organised a charity afternoon tea, raffling off specially made cakes and this was definitely successful! I also did a sponsored zip wire, and wrote to local businesses telling them about the volunteering securing another £500! Fundraising money always seems a little bit off-putting but it just takes some careful planning. It is by no means about who can put on the biggest event, it is just about giving yourself enough time to plan it all out, being thorough and realistic is key!
The trip to South Africa itself was just amazing, it is full on but you really do only get out what you put in; on this trip you’ve got absolutely nothing to loose and only great memories to gain! I had just as much fun as the kids we worked with, and probably even more at times, there is absolutely nothing that you don’t want to do or get involved in. What makes it even better is the team you’re with. Before the trip, none of us knew each other, but I know for a fact that I’ve made friends for life through Gryphons Abroad and its horrible to think that without this project, I most likely wouldn’t have met them! Everybody has the same goal, to make a real impact on the lives of those we’re working with, immediately giving us all a common purpose.
I decided to sign up for Gryphons Abroad 2017 after seeing a post on the VLE and I am so glad I did. I wanted to volunteer at uni, but with having so many other commitments I just couldn’t consistently give a certain number of hours each week to a society. I wanted to try something new, meet different people and make a difference whilst having fun. Gryphons Abroad 2017 went above and beyond this, it was hard work but I had the best time ever doing things I never thought I would get the chance to do.
There is no other project I know that combines teaching young people to cycle in the mountains, going to a game reserve, teaching over 100 kids how to be leaders and visiting an orphanage meeting the most incredible children and giving them things that will change their lives. I just wish I could explain the true extent of this project, but the only way to do that is to experience it for yourself!
P.s To get a real feel for the trip, have a look at our photos.