Written by Denise Davis-Boreham who is currently on the Brazil Immersion Programme in Rio de Janeiro.
Ten years ago, I set up a youth organisation – MaD (Make a Difference). I built a fantastic team of passionate, creative, caring people. Our mission was to inspire young people to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others. And I think we did.
We worked with thousands of young people. One of our greatest achievements was securing our own premises – repurposing the old derelict central bus station into a contemporary youth and community hub. We became self-sustaining through our trading activities. We won awards for our work and even the Prime Minister came to visit us.
Then last year, just as we were thinking about developing and expanding our work, the landlord terminated our lease without warning. We found ourselves homeless and without any income. After considering all the options, we decided to confine our work to the most vulnerable young people. This meant disbanding the team and redundancy for us all. “Devastated” does not begin to describe it.
And so my journey to Brazil begins. I wanted a challenge that would help me refocus, rethink, and reignite my passion for making a difference. Having read other people’s experiences, the Immersion programme sounded like exactly what I needed.
Learning new things (though I’m starting to doubt that Portuguese is for me!), meeting like-minded people, experiencing a different culture – travel with a real and positive purpose and in Rio of all places… it just had to be done. (Obviously the thought of sun, beaches, samba and cold beers had nothing to do with my decision to participate!).
Would you like to #JoinUs in either Brazil, India, or Sri Lanka in 2016? APPLY HERE. Immersion Programmes are running throughout the year as well as a new programme format for people who can’t take 6 weeks out of their lives – our 2-3 week Inspiration Programme in Rio in August/September, and our flexible volunteer programme _TheAssignment. See our website for more details www.socialstarters.org.