'I feel very privileged to have been asked to visit Malawi'

'I feel very privileged to have been asked to visit Malawi'

By James Sandford
London Irish rugby player

IN NOVEMBER our club's communications manager Andrew approached me to see if I would be interested in ‘going on a trip’ during the off season. 

Now for most of us, this is a period in which we can relax, seek out some sun on a foreign beach or simply go home to visit friends and family.

For me, as I come from Northern Ireland, it’s always nice to head home and do the family and friends thing back in the Orchard County, with maybe a week in the sun thrown in for good measure.

However, before Andrew allowed me the opportunity to say no he sat me down and explained just what this trip was really all about.

With this explanation all thoughts of lying on a sun lounger somewhere or heading home to friends and family were quickly put on hold.

As soon as the name Concern was mentioned I knew that this was no ordinary excursion I was being invited on.

Ever since I was a young boy living in Armagh, Concern has been a charity that stands out for the work that it does tackling hunger with some of the poorest of the poor in the most underprivileged countries across the world.

Haven spoken to various people who have taken part in such trips I really am beginning to get a feeling for just how humbling and at sometimes extremely touching this experience will be.

Nevertheless, whether it is a project that involves helping a community become self-sufficient through farming to providing someone with a goat, there is one common thought between everyone that I have spoken to, and that is that this will be a life-changing trip no matter what part of the work we are able to get involved in.

I feel very privileged to have been asked to come on board with the Concern team for this trip to Malawi and hope that with this trip we can really open people’s eyes and provide them with a true sense of what great work Concern are doing across the globe.

For me this is an opportunity to not only view at first hand, but to get hands on with the work that you see and hear about on the TV but that are all too soon forgotten with a sharp flick of a remote control.

When I step onto the plane in June, it will be with trepidation, nervous expectation and the hope that a humble rugby player might just make a difference.