Category Page: Navigating a better future

The Compass Trust: A Change in Perspective

[fusion_text]You must excuse me. This blog is going to be extremely self-indulgent. But my purpose for writing it is to give an insight into why The Compass Trust came to be…

Up until I was 19 years old, I never had my priorities straight. My only cares in the world were; 1) Being Popular and/or “Cool”, 2) Going out drinking with friends and 3) Manchester United.

Don’t get me wrong, all those three things still give me an element of satisfaction! Although without Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United has given me more pain than pleasure recently.

But something changed in 2012.

In April, while was finishing up my first year of University I was told in no uncertain terms by my parents that there was no way I was coming home for the summer, sitting down, and doing nothing. That’s when my sister gave me the idea of volunteering.

It was an idea I didn’t immediately embrace, but when I found out that I could volunteer on a Sports program, I was pretty much sold. This program happened to be in South Africa.

Before I departed for South Africa, I was daunted by the prospect of going to another country, working with people who I didn’t know and also about working with people in poverty.

How could I possibly relate to them? I grew up having everything. Private school education, videos games, laptops, international school football (soccer) tournaments, holidays abroad…I was on my way to help people who just wanted to know where their next meal was coming from.

I arrived in South Africa, and was welcomed by the Volunteer Organisation and taken to a volunteer house full of people whom I presumptuously thought I would have little in common with. A bunch of tree-huggers singing “Kumbaya” around a camp-fire, drinking green tea before heading off to sleep in our hammocks made of leaves.

Maybe they did that in their spare time, but these people were the most kind and welcoming group. People who were there to help other people. Not to live for themselves. These weren’t crazy people, these were normal 19-25 year olds exactly like me. Except, these people had their priorities straight.

The shift had started.

On that Monday, we started working in the townships. These are areas in South Africa which are ridden with poverty, gangs, crime, drugs, etc. My role was to go into the schools, teach gym glass to about 30 children who wouldn’t have a gym class if it wasn’t for volunteers. After school, we would coach a soccer team, which also wouldn’t exist without volunteers. There, we would provide snacks as well as supervision.

One thing I was not expecting was to be mobbed by every single child in the school. And no, these weren’t gang members mobbing and robbing. These were children, taking running jumps at myself and the other volunteers. Hugging us, introducing themselves, asking who we are, where we’re from.

Being British, this was quite a shock. In Britain, we struggle to even muster a hello to someone we’ve met once or twice before, for fear of not being recognised or the gesture not being reciprocated. We also love a good handshake. Only hugs would do for these children.

The change in my perspective was well and truly under way.

I was only meant to stay for 3 weeks. I extended for as long as I could before having to return to University for my second year. During those 7 weeks, I fell in love with the people and the country. So much so, that I made a promise that I would return.

The youth in these areas are unbelievable. Every single day they are faced with life threatening influences and decisions. Yet they smile. Every single day they look forward to going to school. Every single day they don’t know where their next meal is coming from. Yet they smile.

It didn’t matter that I had been to private school and they went to a school with nothing. International soccer tournaments? Nope, they just hoped it didn’t rain so their makeshift soccer pitch wasn’t flooded.

It didn’t matter. And that’s what they taught me. We are all human beings. How’s that for a cliché? But it’s true. We’re all human beings and we all deserve a chance to succeed or even just a chance to live. I will never understand how we have allowed ourselves to get to a point where some people can own 10 mansions in 10 different cities whereas across the globe, some families of 10 all have to huddle together in 1 room. All because of where we were born.

I’m not saying that people shouldn’t become wealthy and successful. I am just saying that I believe everybody should be able to have that chance. Let’s give that chance to people living in poverty.

These human beings who we allow to live in horrendous poverty need our help. That’s why we have started The Compass Trust.

Always good and love to all.




Welcome to The Compass Trust!

A massive hello, welcome and thank you to everyone visiting The Compass Trust (TCT) website. This is our first blog! Having never written a blog in my life, I can assure you this one will be short and sweet.

As TCT is currently waiting to become a legal entity with non-profit status, we have to wait before accepting any volunteers. So, until then, I’m going to be writing a weekly blog to let you all know the progress we’re making. Please come back and check each week to see how we’re doing and what we’re up to.

We’re working hard to have a fantastic program set up for volunteers as soon as possible!

Since February, when the idea was created by myself and Lluis Blanc, we’ve made a lot of progress. From nothing in February, we now have a name, logo, Board of Trustees, a website and finally a social media presence. But this is just the beginning.

Along the way, we’re going to need a lot of support so please stick with us so we can try and make a difference in peoples lives.

Always good and love to all.

Matt Harper