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Meet the Team of Kenyan Volunteers 1986/87

News Story: Meet the Team of Kenyan Volunteers 1986/87

Dr Tonya Sadler now lives in New Zealand as a GP.

Kate Nicholl is a Leadership Development specialist.

Mark Thompson is a Senior Lecturer in Information Systems at Cambridge Judge Business School, Visiting Professor at Surrey Business School, Strategy Director at Methods Group, Board Member of Digital Leaders.

James Dawes QC criminal Barrister specialising in the areas of Murder, Complex Fraud and Organised Crime.

Rebecca Mayhew has a background in corporate fundraising and co-founded Go Ape. Rebecca also served as a Trustee for Project Trust for over seven years.

Matthew Skeate is Head of History at Habberdashers’ Adams’ Grammar School in Shropshire. Now called Haberdashers’ Adams Grammar School.

Why do you think the friendships have endured since 1985?

There are 14 of us who are spread across multiple countries but we really have made the effort to stay in touch. Our Country Representative was tragically killed in a car accident whilst we were in Kenya and that definitely made us bond as a group. There is also the Project Trust experience which in itself is a pretty intense one at 18 years old.

As we have had our own families the connection has only grown stronger. We have had numerous camping trips and get-togethers over the years. Our kids have loved getting to meet and know each other too. It is knowing that this group of people have got your back through the ups and downs of life.

How has the Project Trust Experience influenced your career?

Kate: Being thrown into teaching Physics and Chemistry in a school where there was no electricity and no science equipment, taught me to be quite robust in finding creative ways to share a message. My career in Leadership Development has very much been about making the complex simple and that’s what we had to do every day in Kenya.

James: It has affected the way I interact with other people. I particularly enjoy supporting younger ppl who want to go into Law.

Mark: I changed my degree to Human Sciences and then did Masters in Development Studies at SOAS. Subsequently some of the things I have published have been research around technology in developing countries. I would never have got there if it wasn’t for Project Trust and the experience I had.

Rebecca: When I started to look for a job, it was 1991 and not a great year to find a job. I remember going for interviews and thinking “I’ll get this job”. From Kenya I gained  a real resilience and confidence that anything was possible. The confidence that I had with people meant that I stepped up to manage teams very quickly and that has carried on in my work founding Go Ape. I really enjoy nurturing people and helping them to gain confidence. A lot of that was instilled during my Project Trust year. At Go Ape there has been a lot of change and challenges to resolve. Project Trust really prepared me for the journey I have had with Go Ape. The questions of where can I go, what can I do, where can I really make a difference is instilled from Project Trust.

Tonya: Thinking about the Christchurch earthquakes, I definitely think the resilience and adaptability I gained form my Project Trust experience came to the fore. There was no electricity, no water and we were having to dig long-drop toilets, all experiences I had had when a Volunteer in Kenya with Project Trust. I don’t think I could have dealt with that level of environmental calamity without the skills I gained from Project Trust.

Matthew: I realised how much I enjoyed teaching in Kenya and that has led to the career I have now.

Why would you continue to advocate for the Project Trust experience?

Rebecca: There is a serious commitment with Project Trust that is required from the young person. There are not many year-out organisations that are a whole year and I do think that makes a massive difference. I think you learn a lot about yourself: you also gain incredible skills of determination and resilience.

Tanya: I came out feeling very humble and I think that is important as you go through life. I realised that I learnt so much more than I gave and that is a brilliant life lesson.

Kate: We got a set of students through a set of exams because we were there for a full year and people embraced us as part of their community: that is pretty special.

Mark: Since we went out to Kenya in 1985 the world has become much more consumerist, there is far more social media and a proliferation of options for a young person. The old adage the more you put in the more you get out certainly holds true with Project Trust. Project Trust teaches you that you are there not to consume but to give, commit and learn. As a result of giving rather than consuming you have an incredible experience.

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