Insurance & you

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

African dream

Intense heat and missing supplies were all part of the colour of a recent charity trip to Africa by RIAS employee Andy Rigler. Here, he shares his own emotional journey.

Making a difference

RIAS is involved with initiatives that make a difference to communities all over the world. At the same time, we are proud of our commitment to developing our people.
Two children
Part of this commitment is to the Times Leadership Challenge, which gives participants the opportunity to grow as leaders while contributing to a dedicated African project.

From the 40-plus teams that started the 2010 programme, the Ageas team (the parent company of RIAS) was one of only four to make it to the Challenge Africa final.

Andy Rigler, a RIAS Business Risk Manager and member of the Ageas team, told us about his amazing experience:

“The purpose of the trip was to complete the Zamokuhle Crèche in Luphisi South Africa. After a six-hour journey from Johannesburg we arrived at the village, where we were welcomed with fantastic Zulu warrior dancing.

The shell of the crèche had been built by local tradesmen already, so we worked together to decorate the crèche.

We created a playground for the children, installing swings and see-saws, and dug a vegetable patch covered by a canopy to protect produce from the intense heat.

The children came down to see what we were up to, and for many it was the first time they had seen white people.”

Even with so little, their generosity was incredible

In the evening we visited the homes of some of the families. They showed us how to cook a typical meal and got us to make local dishes, too. Even with so little, their generosity was incredible.

By the second day we were still waiting for supplies, so we adapted our plans and spent the morning in the middle school.

While we were shown a typical local dance by the kids, we taught them the Blues Brothers’ Everybody Needs Somebody. We also held a sports day for the primary school in a dusty field in 45°C heat.

Our third day was the most difficult, as we planted 400 saplings along the road in to Luphisi in the burning sun. Local kids receive a credit to spend in school on uniforms or food for each tree planted.

These people have so much to teach us

Our send-off was incredible. Everyone was football crazy, so we held a big match. The result was a one-all draw, but we eventually lost on penalties. Dancing and singing celebrations followed.

I realised that these people have so much to teach us. I envied their strong sense of community, where everyone knows each other and everyone looks out for their neighbour.

Our objective was to make sure that the £50,000 raised by the 40 teams made a lasting contribution. The project has made a difference to so many lives, including mine. I can’t wait to go back!’’

RIAS staff volunteer in the community

365: the number of hours volunteered by RIAS staff in 2010 to worthy causes.

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