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Page last updated at 09:16 GMT, Tuesday, 27 July 2010 10:16 UK
Suffolk teenagers on 'life-changing' Tanzania trip
By Jon Wright
BBC Suffolk

Adrian Wolton
Felixstowe's ecumenical youth leader Adrian Wolton

A team of young Christians from Suffolk will head out to rural Tanzania next year for a 22 day visit.

Youth worker Adrian Wolton says it will be a 'life changing' journey for the 10 teenagers who are chosen to go.

"To see someone living in poverty all of a sudden puts into perspective our own lives and troubles," he said.

"It's not to diminish anything we go through or feel, but to give young people the chance to think 'actually my life isn't that bad'."

The group will visit the diocese of Kagera in August 2011, with young people from churches across Suffolk being asked to apply for a place on the trip by 22 September 2010.

Giving young people a world view

"We live quite a closeted life," said Adrian.

"We read the news and see the TV, but actually going somewhere, having the experience of cross-cultural mission and seeing how other people live will hopefully see young people changing their world-view.

Children in Tanzania who fled the violence in Rwanda in 1994

"I think it's really, really important. So often it's adults and gap-years, but this will be 14-16 year olds, so it's an opportunity that doesn't usually arise.

"So often we go off on two or three week missions, or even for six months, and we think 'I'm going to go and change the world', but actually it's more about the opportunity our young people are getting to change their own lives.

"I was part of the leadership for a group last year where we took 350 young people to South Africa.

"They were all working in townships and they really enjoyed it, but the people who changed the most were the young people we took.

"To be in a place where people try to break into school, to go to school, because that's the only way they can, whereas a lot of our young people struggle with school and maybe don't see the point.

"It helps put everything into perspective. It gives you the global picture of where you fit into this world." The 2011 trip will be about cementing links between the Anglican church in Suffolk and Tanzania.

Kagera, Tanzania
Children in the Kagera diocese in Tanzania

The Bishop's party

In August 2010, the Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, the Right Reverend Nigel Stock, is leading a small group from Suffolk to Tanzania, as part of the celebrations marking 25 years since the Kagera diocese was formed.

The Reverend Paul Daltry will be one of the clergy taking part, and feels such visits benefit both parties.

"They are important because they help both us and the Kagera diocese get a different view of life elsewhere," he said.

"It's an opportunity for us to learn about what's happening in that part of Africa, to pray for them and support them and likewise for them to learn about what our needs are and pray and support us."

The link between Suffolk and Kagera was formally established in 1994.

"We made the link and within a matter of months, the war in Rwanda erupted and over a million refugees poured across into the Kagera region.

"From that, the diocese here responded very generously, and gave a lot of support to the church out there and that really cemented the relationship."

The cost of the youth trip next year is £1,800 with parishes being asked to help support any young person planning to join the expedition in raising the sum.

There are spaces for two university students and ten youngsters.

For more information write to Adrian Wolton here adrian@thewoltons.co.uk .

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