Would you like to be a Teaching Assistant in Zimbabwe?


Toby’s Fund for Christian Action is looking for a Gap Year student who would like to volunteer to spend 9 months (January – September) at Petra Schools in Bulawayo.

The purpose of Petra Schools is “The Formation of Christian Character’

The Petra Schools in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, provide an education of as high a quality and as low a cost as possible to about 1,200 children aged 5 – 19 years old. The Petra Schools have a Christian ethos, and welcome children without regard to race, colour, gender or religion. They have a priority of providing places for those with special educational or financial needs.

It is an aspiration of the Friends of Petra Schools that a new Christian leadership will be nurtured and equipped to contribute to the healing and re-building of Zimbabwe.

If you wish to volunteer at Petra Schools as a teaching assistant, more information and how to apply is included in this prospectus.

If you have any questions about Petra Schools or this placement in particular, please contact us.

Report from Ellie Moran back from Kenya

Well I’m back! I have just spent 9 incredible weeks in Nairobi, Kenya. This is going to be my best attempt at portraying my time in that beautiful country.

I arrived in Nairobi at 6:30am and took a good two hours to get my visa and bags! I was met by Jesse, our Canadian volunteer coordinator, who took me to what was to be my home for the next two months. I was met there by the lovely Louisa and Michelle, who were absolutely full of beans and definitely made me excited on my first day. Jesse said that I could stay at home and sleep then come in for the afternoon, but I told him that I couldn’t wait to see round the home and I wanted to start right away. So, off we all went! The home was not at all what I was expecting; I don’t know what I had pictured in my mind but, whatever it was, it was nothing like this. It was so big for one, very spread out and I had no idea that the Jonathan Gloag Academy was so close to the home. After being shown around I went straight to work in the nursery with Louisa. Now, I am not a baby person, which anyone who knows me will tell you, however, I couldn’t help but instantly develop some favourites. After a very hectic morning Louisa took me to the Can-Afrika Cafe to meet Michelle and Jesse for lunch. The cafe is just one many ideas to help fund the home and hopefully one day push it towards self-sufficiency. After lunch we helped Jesse make up some goodie-bags that were to be delivered to Mashimoni on Monday. After doing this I realised how shattered I was and Jesse offered to take me home.

That was my first day which I remember vividly. However, the rest of my days have all blurred into one big memory due to the fact that I omitted to keep a journal. So I thought that I would give you a typical day in the nursery, crèche and kitchens, as they are the main areas I worked in.

A day in the nursery consists of a lot of changing, playing and feeding. You start at nine and the first thing you have to do is take off your shoes and put on a pinnny. You then have to put on one of the nursery’s pair of flip flops, or ‘slippers’ as they call them, wash your hands, then you are ready to enter. All visitors into the nursery are asked to take the same precautions to avoid spreading germs and it works relatively well. At that time of the morning the nurses are already busy changing the babies so I go and get a baby from one of the cots and join in. We keep going till all the babies are dressed and changed and are in the play pen. There is also a section of the nursery for the tiny babies, when they reach 6 months they get to move into the play pen during the day. A volunteer’s main job is to play with the babies, give them all attention and talk to them in English. Apparently it is also important for them to get used to seeing white people, as a lot of adopting families are from European countries. We then give them breakfast at 10:30 when they get porridge or, as I liked to call it, brown sludge. They are then put back into the play pen and the one of the nurses usually turns on the TV. Now, the nursery was in possession of a Barney DVD which had two episodes on it. Unfortunately this was all they were in possession of and they proceeded to play it at least four times day. This was the only downside of working in the nursery. I would also feed them lunch which was more fun as there was less chance of it ending up all over me as frequently happened with the brown sludge.

A day in the crèche has to be one of my favourites. There were very few children in the crèche which surprised me because there are about forty-four babies in the nursery at the moment. This just shows how many children are adopted from the home; last year approximately ninety children were adopted. First thing to do on a crèche day was collect the children from the houses; Remmy from house three, Lidempta from house seven and so on. The most frustrating thing about the crèche kids is that you know they understand English, especially Remmy and Melanie because they grew up in the nursery surrounded by volunteers. However, even though they understood us that never stopped them from pretending they had no idea what we were talking about. Which could be funny at times and their little cheeky faces just made us laugh and forget to be cross anyway, which I am convinced they were totally aware of! Remmy in particular was extremely fond of saying ‘no’ to absolutely everything we said. Another word to which he was particularly fond was ‘umbrella’. It may come as no surprise to you that darling little Remmy was my absolute favourite of the whole bunch!


We would play with them till 11:00 when we gave them tea or ‘chi’ then we would take them outside. Playing with them outside was a joy and a chore because they are very good at disappearing when you aren’t looking. Melanie would constantly run into house four with Aggie her partner in crime. Then at half past twelve then we would take them back to the houses for lunch.

Working in the kitchen was the hardest of them all. They work you incredibly hard in there! It’s on the go, non-stop, always something to do. The second you finish top and tailing green beans there are carrots to grate, and there are a LOT of carrots. Once it took me two whole hours just to grate the carrots! Another job they love giving the volunteers is counting bits of pineapple. At 12 o’clock it is time to move all the food that has been prepared to the school dining halls. We were always sent to the senior school as there were more children to serve. My job was always to put the fruit in a bowl and dish it out to the sea of children that surged towards us. Then the washing up had to be done. Three hundred plates, bowls, spoons and cups all to be done by hand. The job of a volunteer at this point is to dry up and put it all away. By the twentieth plate my tea towel was always completely soaked and felt as if I’d dipped it in the sink full of water and they were all full of holes. To be honest, I think they were more holes than cloth but Kenyans are famous for their determination to use something until it has practically disintegrated, which I always felt my tea towel would do at any moment. They are also famous for never giving you more information than you ask for. The first time I worked in the kitchen I was there till 3 o’clock because no-one had told me that I was allowed to eat. Almost faint with hunger I gathered up my courage to ask one of the scary chefs if I could possibly go for my lunch. His stern face then broke into the biggest smile and he said ‘my dear, have you not yet eaten? Go at once!’ I’ll never forget his shock at me having lasted so long without eating!

So there we have it! My time at Thomas Barnardo’s House summed up in four paragraphs. I can only hope that I have helped you picture, even the tiniest bit, this wonderful organisation. The children are well cared for and happy, and that is all that anyone can ask for.


Update from Jenny Carroll (In Zambia!)

What do you do when you are tring to wash in a grass walled shower in Zambia but you find that the water brought for your “shower” has been heated very zealously to 90 degrees and there is no other water to cool it down??!! This was one of the minor challenges of my recent mission trip to Zambia…  but the challenges are nothing compared to the joy of seeing so many people coming to know Jesus…


Our team of 10 arrived in to Lusaka Saturday morning and met Pastor Richwell who organises the ministry there and his family. We then headed out to evangelise the neighbourhood. My Swahili came in useful as I could understand some bits of the local Nyanja language  and we had good opportunities to witness, encourage, pray and lead people to the Lord. At one point I started talking to one family and ended up preaching and praying with about 40 women and children!

Next day it was adult Sunday school, church, kids (33 committed their lives to Christ) and then I found myself with about an hour and a half to speak to around 60 teenagers with less than 15 minutes to prepare! Needless to say the Lord made it possible, and enjoyable, and many youth gave themselves to follow Christ wholeheartedly.


Monday we spent the whole day travelling South West to Sianyuka where we had an amazing welcome, being literally lifted off the bus and twirled around! The team taught various groupings of adults, youth and children in the day time. Outstanding to me was a youth meeting where every young man answered the call to fight on the Lord’s side, and probably the oldest lady I met in Zambia receiving Christ. At the evening meetings many responded and were prayed with individually, although we didn’t always know what they wanted prayer for! We were also able to give out many Bibles, which were received with great rejoicing. For many of us this was our favourite place. We were reluctant to leave!


We arrived at Nachibanga on Thursday. Home visits the next day proved very fruitful. My team visited three homes belonging to the wives of one man. At each there were unanimous responses. Jennifer (below) was saved at the first house. She came out to church on Sunday.


In Nachibanga there was a kids group and adult groups but one day the Lord gave me a message to prepare for a youth group despite it not existing! The next day a youth group was created and I was asked to speak with no time to prepare: but praise God the message was ready! In one meeting the interpreter’s brother was saved, and he too came to church and received a Bible.

A zero notice invitation to every classroom of the primary school at the same time (I got about 60 kids to teach!) saw many children saved. We also ministered in a nearby high school on the last day, and prayed with many students.

 Thanks For Praying

I’d like to say a big thank you to all who prayed: the Lord did over and above as usual! And of course thank you to Toby’s Fund for supporting me in this work of the Lord!IMG_9900

I have a regular newsletter (approximately quarterly) which covers my OAC work more fully so if you would like to receive these or you simply want to say hello I would love to hear from you… my email is gods-kid@hotmail.co.uk

Update from Jenny Carroll working with OAC in Reading

I’m loving my training and work with OAC ministries here in Reading. At the moment I’m doing quite a lot of travelling, spending time with more experienced evangelists and taking part in various street outreaches, watching and learning from school assemblies and various other things such as Southampton University Events Week.

I’m already preaching on the street with a sketchboard, and within two weeks it will be my turn to take a primary school assembly … or maybe two or three!

Each time I head out to the street there is that feeling of “What if nobody stops to listen?” … but each time people do. Sometimes they leave when I begin to speak of Jesus … but I’ve noticed that more often that is just what makes them stop to listen: clearly God is at work! The need for salvation is not only very real, but often it’s also felt, and the gospel really is good news.

Next week I’m in London for most of the week, the following week is Plymouth, and a few weeks later Bridlington in Yorkshire … which apparently is next to the sea … and also has marauding seagulls which love to dive-bomb evangelists!

In between all of that there is a mixture of the more mundane administrational side of the work and getting out on the street and in a school in Reading to share the gospel.

The motto of OAC is “Presenting Christ By All Means Everywhere” and while I haven’t used every possible means or been to every place it is still a pretty good description of the work.

A big thank you to Toby’s Fund for supporting me in this work of the Lord!

I have a regular newsletter (approximately quarterly) which goes into a bit more detail so if you would like to receive these or you simply want to say hello I would love to hear from you… my email is gods-kid@hotmail.co.uk

Fiona Cormie’s Gap Year with Latitude Global Volunteering

Toby’s Fund has helped me to spend the most amazing eight months working as a kindergarten teacher in Moturiki Island, Fiji.

Tade – one of my kindi children

Tade – one of my kindi children

A view of the village from the top of the hill

A view of the village from the top of the hill

A view of the village from the sea

A view of the village from the sea

Moturiki is beautiful but it is also a very poor island with no running water, no electricity, no roads or vehicles, no internet and poor phone signal. Though the people are financially poor, they are rich in kindness and faith.

I stayed with a host family in Nasauvoki village, and helped my Na (Mum) with some of the household work including: sweeping, picking up rubbish, collecting coconuts and firewood and sometimes I was allowed to help with the cooking.

My sister Nina cooking in our kitchen

My sister Nina cooking in our kitchen

My host Mum and Dad

My host Mum and Dad

My accommodation was very basic – the toilet was a hole in the ground outside, flushed with a bucket of water. I showered wearing clothes using a bucket of water, my bedroom had a curtain instead of a door and my windows had panes of glass missing so when it rained I got wet in my bed. All the cooking was done on the floor and we ate off a mat sitting on the floor. There were also lots of animals in the house – throughout my stay I had cats, dogs, chickens, rats, cockroaches, spiders and centipedes in my room.

My shower

My shower

The toilet

The toilet

A typical dinner of boiled fish and bele leaves in coconut milk

A typical dinner of boiled fish and bele leaves in coconut milk

I ran a kindergarten (kindi) in the village hall which was very challenging. I rarely had a helper, which made communicating with the children difficult as I spoke very little Fijian and they spoke virtually no English. I could have between 0 and 17 kids each day, as they didn’t all always turn up, which made planning the day difficult. The kids were very cheeky but also very sweet, and I loved getting to know them all. There were very few resources in the kindi, so I was very lucky that my family and friends at home sent things like colouring books, paints and bubbles out which the kids loved. Every day at kindi we would play games, sing songs, do arts and crafts, and I taught them the alphabet, counting to ten and colours in English and Fijian. Running the kindi was so rewarding as I could see the children making progress with learning, and it was lovely to see the shy kids settle in and make friends.

The Kindi/Village hall.

The Kindi/Village hall.

The Kindi/Village hall

The Kindi/Village hall

Tade at story time

Tade at story time

Aralai and Laba wearing our Easter masks

Aralai and Laba wearing our Easter masks

Christianity is the main religion in Fiji, and my Island was Methodist. I loved going to church every Sunday and seeing everyone dressed up in their finest clothes. I couldn’t understand any of the service as it was all in Fijian, but the 4 part A Cappella singing was beautiful! My Ta (Dad) was a pastor, and was glad that I was a Christian too, as it meant that I could join in with their devotions in the evenings.

Some of my kindi children

Some of my kindi children

Some friends from the village after kava and hophop (dancing)

Some friends from the village after kava and hophop (dancing)

I made many friends with the locals on my island and with the other volunteers from Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. I have gained so much from my time in Fiji, I feel it has made me a better person and a better Christian.

Ryan Knowles reports on visit to Pune, India

During our two week stay in Pune, India, myself and six others got involved in some amazing work already taking place. We managed to see where donations like ours go: helping people who live in the slum hear the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ through a strong team of church planters in Pune.

The majority of our time was spent teaching children. Our team split into two groups: one helped out at the “school dropout centre” where teenagers had left school for whatever reason; the other group helped out at the kindergarten with the younger children. Both of these schools are run by local Christian volunteers who get a small monthly allowance for their work. Praise God for these people because, not only do they contribute many hours teaching children, but more importantly they share the Good News with them – not the easiest task in a predominately Hindu area. As well as teaching the children English and helping them with their homework we shared stories, played games and taught them worship songs. We had a great time!

Visiting house groups during the week was really encouraging. In most cases about twenty people cram into a small room to sing worship songs, eat, share and read the Word together; it was fun trying to learn worship songs in Marathi, the local language. As we shared our testimonies with one another, one testimony stuck with me: a Sikh family. Two years ago the grandmother had met with Jesus after hearing the gospel through an evangelist. Over time her children and grandchildren became believers too. Amazing!

I also got the chance to work alongside two evangelists to see the challenging work they do. Every week they go into a different area within the slum handing out tracts. Despite most people worshipping idols and Hindu gods, this traditional style of evangelism seems to work within this culture. We visited two houses where the evangelists had recently shared the Gospel with the families who had now converted to Christianity. Although we only spent a short time with the families, it was great for us to go and share our testimonies and pray for them.

The people we were working with are called “Untouchable” or “Dalit” people by many in India due to the caste system, and are considered outcasts. This is a real shame because they are such an amazing community, just normal people like you and me. Their hospitality was overwhelming – quick to serve us curry and Chai tea. And they seemed to be really happy, always having a laugh.

I will miss them.

Ryan Knowles

Feedback from Carla McColgan on her time in Rwanda

After spending a good portion of life in Rwanda last year, coming home to Scotland and adjusting back into the pace of life here was nothing short of a challenge. Spiritually, emotionally, physically – life is drastically different between the two countries. I am still being challenged daily to see God the same way I saw Him in Africa. Despite the distractions, temptations and desire to just exist comfortably, I am trying to have a faith that is grounded in my heart, that will be with me wherever I go. God is honouring my persistence and trying spirit in building the foundations of faith within me. That way, whatever ground I stand on, whether it be african dust, or scottish pavements, my faith is with me. Many people serve overseas with a view to only serve and give out from themselves, but SO much is learnt for yourself along the way. How amazing that God continues to reveal Himself over and over through every experience and that although we are only weak humans susceptible to stumbles and struggles, He chooses and calls us to do His great work across the globe. For those who want to be challenged in their faith at home and abroad, all that needs to be done is to follow His plan!

Elspeth MacLachlan in Zimbabwe, 2011

Thanks to Toby’s Fund, I was able to travel out to Zimbabwe in January 2011 for a three month working visit. I was working in the Petra schools in Bulawayo, which I had found out about when Rev Chris Hingley came out to Scotland in November 2010. There are two Petra schools, a high school and a primary school, both of which I had the opportunity to work in.

When I worked in the primary school I helped in the progress department in the morning and then in the afternoon I would help in any class that needed an extra hand. The children at the primary school were so polite and were always cheery, making it delightful to work there. At the high school I worked in the S.E.N. (Special Educational Needs) department, which allowed me to support whichever student needed an extra push in class. It was great getting to see their progress through out the term, and it was so satisfying when they obtained the grade that they had been working for.

The family I lived with were so welcoming and friendly and I think that they really made the trip for me and I will miss them the most from Zimbabwe. However my most lasting memory from Zimbabwe has to be seeing the Victoria Falls, which was the most beautiful sight I have ever seen, and it was so humbling to stand next to something so huge and amazing as the falls.

This experience has been one that definitely changed me for the better. I think that it has strengthened me as a person, but at the same time humbled me. Given any opportunity, I would love to go back to Zimbabwe as it was one of the most amazing times in my life.

The progress class I worked with

One of the elephants up close at Antelope park

Tatijana, Katja and myself in traditional wear at the Boma restaurant