The Return of Harrison Threadgold
Earlier this year we sponsored a young man called Harrison Threadgold, who took on the challenge of raising £3,000 in order to secure a voluntary placement with Ripple Africa, a charity that helps those living in poor conditions by working to improve education, healthcare and well-being. Harrison raised these funds through a sponsored kayak journey of 50 miles from Oxford to Henley during the wettest weekend in April, achieving his goal with flying colours and securing his seat on the plane as a result.
He departed Heathrow on 10th July with a group of 15 students and arrived in Malawi over 10 hours later. Receiving a warm welcome from the locals, the group set up their base camp then got to work immediately, not wanting to waste a single moment whilst in this amazing country. Harrison’s first job was to dig a compost heap; this sounds like a nice day in the allotment, but the hole had to be a metre long, a metre wide and a metre deep, which is no simple task: “After 30 minutes of non-stop digging and with only a 60cm deep hole in front of me, I was shattered! Digging the rock solid, water deprived soil in the intense heat from the sun really took it out of me.” But Harrison persevered and by the end of the afternoon he’d created a fresh compost heap, ready to aid the village’s agriculture.
And that was only the start, for over the coming weeks Harrison and the team would build and paint a children’s nursery: “I felt the hidden artist in me trying to break out, so I painted a sea world on the nursery wall with my friend Greg.” Plus he and the others even taught lessons in physics, art and PE on one particular occasion at another school: “It was very interesting to see how intelligent these children really are – I was amazed!“
But it wasn’t all hard labour, lessons and paint stains for the team, as the locals wanted to share their culture and traditions in as vibrant a way as possible: “One of the most entertaining things we took part in was the Malawian traditional dancing. Being the natural dancer I think I am, I took it upon myself to be the first of our group to join in. The locals called me a natural!”
Harrison also spent time with the younger children of Lilongwe, the village they were helping to develop. “I took my iPod and a portable speaker with me. My colleague Lucy and I played musical statues with the children, which they loved!”
It’s one thing that Harrison played a large part in improving the standard of living for these people, but he also learnt a lot himself: “Walking around the village and interacting with the locals made me realise how lucky I am. It really hits home when you see the conditions that they have to live in. What is so remarkable is how happy and friendly everyone is. It was a true inspiration seeing these parents and children living their lives in such a good spirit. To me, each and every one of them is a hero.”
News of OSL’s sponsorship caused quite a reaction in the office, with one member of our team saying “I’m so happy to be part of a company that has such humane and real values,” and another emailing Alastair, one of our Principal Directors, to say “it touched my heart and I join those children, the community and Harrison to say THANK YOU.”
We at OSL are very proud to have sponsored such a committed and selfless individual as 16-year-old Harrison Threadgold. We wish him all the best in his career plan to become a doctor of medicine, and with the attitude and initiative he’s shown over the last few months, we can’t imagine it will be long before he’s checking heartbeats and writing prescriptions.
For more information on Ripple Africa, please visit their website.