A world of connections

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“We’ve got plans for more fundraising and more trips. We are committed to their futures. We will be back.”

For a man still recovering from 48-hour, travel-induced jet-lag, Aaron Bellette’s voice is amazingly passionate.

The work isn’t just handouts; it’s sustainable.

But considering where he’s been, what he’s seen and what he’s done, it’s not at all surprising.

Mr Bellette, a lecturer in visual communications at Avondale College, and member of Regen Church, NSW, has recently returned from an ADRA Connections trip to Malawi. He, along with professional photographer Dominique Cherry and Pastor Mark Craig, used their combined skills to document the impact of ADRA’s projects, including the Krystle Klear Water Project, in a number of poverty-affected villages.

“We returned with more than 200 gigabytes of photos and video,” Mr Bellette said. “We are producing a photo-book and a range of videos and other materials that will mean the projects’ impact can continue and grow.”

The team, along with the wider church community, has invested a lot of time and money in the Krystle Klear Water Project—raising more than $40,000 for the drilling of boreholes during the past 18 months.

“We had a personal attachment to the project and the people it was benefiting because of all our fundraising,” Mr Bellette said. “It created a vested interest in what we were doing. We were engaged and connected with the change that was occurring. I would encourage everybody to do the same.”

During their 16-day trip, Mr Bellette and the team witnessed how ADRA’s work is empowering communities and changing lives for the future.

“The work isn’t just handouts; it’s sustainable. ADRA’s work is empowering the community,” he said. “The villagers showed us around their homes and their gardens. They sang and danced as they took us around—they were so proud of the changes they’ve been able to make.

“It was amazing to see firsthand what is happening, particularly as a result of the projects we have been fundraising for.”

ADRA Connections is a new, short-term volunteer program run by ADRA Australia. With support from the ADRA office in Sydney, church groups, schools, families and other interest groups have the opportunity to get their hands dirty bringing an ADRA project to life, learn about ADRA’s ministry around the world and experience the amazing cultures and sights the world has to offer.

“It was really easy,” Mr Bellette said, reflecting on the process leading up to and during their trip. “Everything was prepared; projects were ready to go so we could just walk in and get straight into it. The two-day safari we took in while we were there was just amazing too.”

Mr Bellette’s team is just one of the seven groups involved in an ADRA Connections trip during the next 12 months. But with more than 30 trips on offer throughout Africa, Asia and the South Pacific, there are plenty of opportunities for you to get involved.

From building shelters for albino school students in Tanzania to setting up water systems in Vanuatu to helping to empower young leaders in rural Vietnam, ADRA Connections allows you to use your skills, time and effort to make a life-changing difference.

For more information about ADRA Connections and to take the next step in getting involved, visit <www.adra.org.au> or call 1800 24 ADRA.

Braden Blyde is communication officer for ADRA Australia.