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Friday, October 25, 2013

A Humbling Journey by Skip Phillips

One of our Mozambique Mission's Team members, Skip Phillips, wrote the follow article that has been published in various pool industry publications. Skip is a world renown pool designer.

I recently had the honor of taking a trip that has forever changed the way I look at the world. For two and a half weeks I traveled in South Africa and Mozambique on a humanitarian mission organized by Father’s House, and Reaching the Hungry, two faith-based organizations that bring supplies and other forms of much-needed relief to areas where disease, hunger and lack of water have created pandemics of human suffering.

On a personal level, the trip was part of my own re-awakening of faith. It was something I wanted to do as a way to express my faith in Christ and do what I could to help others in need. Going in I had done some fairly extensive reading about African relief efforts and had some lengthy conversations with people who had been there before.

Once our journey was underway, however, and we came face to face with the people impacted by extreme poverty, I quickly realized that nothing could possibly prepare me for the experience that was about to unfold.

Prior to the trip, which included seven others and me, I was feeling pretty good about our efforts raising money and assembling resources. We had put together more than $82,000 in donations, which is about 10 times that of a typical mission of this kind. My friend and industry colleague, Chuck Baumann, and his family supplied 85 pairs of shoes — these were given to people that had never even worn shoes. We supplied school clothes to an entire school, soccer jerseys, kids clothing, and 350 solar bibles in their own language. Incredibly, not one cent or pair of shoes was lost to extortion or “taxes” through at least a dozen armed checkpoints.

The pride I felt at the start was quickly supplanted by a profound sense of humility. During the trip I attended church services in multiple small villages and schools, as well as in Vilancoulos, a large coastal town in Mozambique. I helped pull in a fishing net in the Indian ocean, slept on the sand under a net for eight days, witnessed the security measures necessary to survive in Johannesburg, took 1,400-plus images of people and towns/shops, as well as animals on the Savannah and beached boats on the ocean front. I came to understand the incredible difference a well or chicken farm makes to a village; I enjoyed an African bush dinner of corn mash and impala, cooked over an open fire.

After driving approximately 1500 miles, I saw many areas that most newcomers don’t see. Imagine clean-swept “dirt” floors in huts and clean villages — not the squalor you see in the city. I also found there are a lot of people in the pool and spa industry funding and accomplishing significant efforts globally, and it has nothing to do with marketing. This is work that is done strictly for the sake of doing good.

I’m overwhelmed at the success of this outreach, as well as the dozens of other viable programs that members of the business community fund. But I also believe this is only the beginning.

We all need to use our gifts to help others, not as a wasteful government mandate, but as an ongoing voluntary outreach. The government aid, whether American, U.N. or others, unfortunately funds the very structures and governments that have destroyed these countries in the first place. Faith based organizations are far and away the most effective at getting aid directly to the people that need it the most, and with those resources comes a message of hope as a bonus.

I thought I was going to be instrumental in blessing the people less fortunate than myself, but the real blessing was for me. I am not the same person that left America September 6th, and I am pursuing the heartfelt joy that I witnessed in the local people, who are often forced to walk four hours every day in each direction to get a bucket of water.

On the subject of water, I couldn’t help but realize that in the U.S. my career is all about bringing the luxury of water to my clients, while in Africa, lack of water presents a brutally different set of issues. The region is in immediate need of countless wells to combat thirst, hunger and waterborne illness.

I’ve always known that here in the U.S. most of us have it pretty good. I have “1st world” problems, but I don’t have any 3rd world problems. We don’t want for clean water, safe food or clothing and we have opportunities to provide for our families and ourselves as we participate in the most affluent and abundant society in human history. By witnessing the dignity, strength and hopeful warmth of people who have nothing by comparison, I’ve realized not only how fortunate I am, but also the immediate need to do whatever can be done to relieve levels of suffering that most of us can barely even imagine.

Here are just a few of the pictures Skip took...

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing his experience. It makes me want to get more involved in my churches Africa outreach. :)


Thank you for your words of encouragement. The Sales Family