Bertys Story

Now that the recent LCC Tanzania project is over the guys are now settled back home and sharing their stories. Below is a member of Dalaradia.

Bertys story –

“Hello, My Name is Robert McWilliams, Bertie to my friends. I am a loyalist from a working-class background in Carrickfergus.

Recently, I was given the opportunity to travel to Africa as part of a team of other loyalists from different working-class areas and communities represented by the Loyalist Communities Council (LCC) to undertake a project working at an orphanage and schools that belong to Kidzcare Tanzania.

I decided to sign up for this challenge. Prior to travel we were all given training in various skills including first aid, CPR, child protection and even basic building skills and the project leader Bob told us about the good and bad of Africa.

As the time for departure grew closer I began to question my decision to volunteer for the project and how much I was going to miss my beautiful little girl Derbi, who is only 6 years old.

Finally, the time to travel came around and having only met the other team members a few times in meetings and training nights I was more than nervous on what to expect. I was particularly nervous on the food and hygiene as both these are an issue with me, despite Bobs assurance that things would be manageable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, at 5am on a cold and damp morning on 17th September we all met, had a brief breakfast, loaded up the minibus which was generously supplied for our trip to Dublin airport and off we went. From the moment our adventure began, all the lads got on well together and the “banter” was good. I started feeling more comfortable as I am sure the others did as well but still I had no idea what to expect in the next four weeks.

After an exhausting flight, flying via Istanbul we arrived at 3am in a warm, clammy Dar es Salaam and after a small run in with local customs (over donated football boots and kits we were bringing) Bob got us cleared through and unto the bus waiting to take us the 60 Kms to the orphanage. To say the roads were bad would be an understatement. After a couple of hours in the bus freezing as the air-conditioning was on full blast, we arrived at the Orphanage in the dark. By now all exhausted, we settled down for a few hours rest in our communal dorm and sleeping under a mosquito net was strange. After a few hours rest we got up and explored the orphanage assessing what needed to be done and whom would be the best to do it. I am a window fitter/ joiner and very aware of the building trade so we split into groups. Straight away we got stuck into general maintenance work around the orphanage and whilst doing that we met the beautiful kids that stayed there. All our hearts were touched as these kids really have nothing and they are the most happy and friendly wee kids I have ever met. We soon learned that these kids are very much the lucky ones compared to others, as they have a safe life and love at the orphanage and without “Mama Mary” and the staff they would be desolate and abandoned. Listening to their individual life stories would melt the hardest heart. My thoughts went back to my own daughter and I realised just how well off she is compared to these kids.

As the first week drew to a close I was struggling with the food and being a diabetic it was affecting me mentally and physically and the rest of the group could see that and being honest I feel that’s when the bond began, Guys I had never known before where going out of their way and helping me in any way they could. We were building the foundations of trust and friendship…. Pretty soon, with a little pushing I began to eat like everyone else and my days of being a fussy bugger were coming to an end. Our main objective was to help the kids and this became our motivation.

The team split into two, one group went off to paint a local school which Kidzcare had built, whilst the other group stayed at the orphanage and carried on with the maintenance and interacting with the kids.

We spent our day off by having a beach day with the kids what a time we had enjoying the beach, the warm Indian Ocean and most of all having fun with the kids… The trip home on the bus was amazing with the kids entertaining us with selection of Swahili songs.

By the time the second week began we all knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses and that’s when we became a real team, helping each other emotionally and physically through what was a difficult and challenging time, with difficult living conditions compared to back home. we all worked hard we started to see and feel that we had achieved success and had given the kids help and hope as they are all bright kids.

I personally learned to respect a lot of things back home, such as hot water (all we had was a cold-water shower and only if water was available) food and of course family. Everyone realised just how well off we are back home and none would take things for granted again.
I know it sounds a cliché but the fact is we went to Africa as strangers and returned as a family of the LCC who will support each other from now on.

Now back home, I see things very differently and I am so glad that I got the opportunity to do it, my only regret is that everyone will not get this opportunity but if you do, you need to grasp it …..
Would I do it again? Hell yes!!! The feeling of achievement and the sheer thrill of helping others is like no other feeling ever and to top it all I have made 9 new lifelong friends…
Finally, I would like to thank everyone for your support, all the sponsors, The LCC and its chairman Mr. David Campbell for the idea and Bob Thompson our project leader for putting it all together. Mama Mary, of Kidzcare Tanzania who is an amazing woman with the largest heart of anyone I have known and who deserves everyone’s support.”

www.kidzcaretanzania.org

Brave new world

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b09c5622/brave-new-world-back-home

Over four years and across seven hours of television William Crawley has travelled to America, Canada, New Zealand and Australia to tell the stories of some remarkable Ulster-Scots men and women who made their mark in the New World. Now he returns to home soil to find out what those stories reveal about the Ulster-Scots diaspora as a whole and how the loss of sons and daughters, neighbours and friends over generations has made emigration part of our story and of this world, Back Home

 

Row on Row, East Belfast

Row on Row East Belfast, which Dalaradia take part in every year – starts on 5th November.

To mark the opening a scooter cavalcade will leave Belfast City Hall at 1.30 and the above date with their arrival at Row on Row, Pitt Park, Newtownards Road being around 2pm.

 

Come and see them arrive on what will be a great occasion.

Also, there will be a community service on Wednesday 8th November at 3.30 and we would particularly encourage community groups, school kids etc to attend.

There will also be two night time Remembrance events on the 9th and 10th November.

All welcome – Lest we forget

PBS – Martin Luther – Complete documentary

Finally the LCC Tanzania Project challenge is over.

Finally the LCC Tanzania Project challenge is over.
 
All arrived home safe and sound yesterday evening and with the exception of a few mosquito bites everyone is in good health and condition.
 
Berty, a member of Dalaradia, remarked “the trip started with three groups of strangers and ended with one group of family”.
 
The month away raised some challenges but as each challenge was overcome the bond of friendship grew stronger. The children of the orphanage touched their hearts and have shaped their lives for the future.
 
This is something we hope to build on for the future helping less fortune people. One very important aspect of motivation is the willingness to stop and to look at things that no one else has bothered to look at. Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted. Reflect upon your present blessings of which every man has many – not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.
 
Well done to everyone involved, you are a credit to your community.
 
For more information on this project check out:

Reformation day

Just 12 days to go until Reformation Day 2017.

In the run up to it, we will be sharing various articles and videos.

The Protesant Reformation was, first and foremost, all about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was then, and it still is now.

 

On this day….

On 13th October 1994, after a long process of consultation with members and activists across Northern Ireland, the Combined Loyalist Military Command representing the Red Hand Commando, Ulster Volunteer Force and the Ulster Defence Association, called a ceasefire bringing loyalists fully into the peace process.

 

The overwhelming majority appeared – and still appear – to be relieved that that part of their lives is long over and, hopefully, gone forever.

Along with many working behind the scenes people like Winston Rea and William Smith played a pivotal role in negotiations with the latter chairing the announcement.

Today?

A day with uncertainty, a day with a younger generation not experiencing as much killing, but feeling the effects of the continuing erosion of Protestant/Unionist/Loyalist culture through parades, flags and government appeasement.

Today a dissident threat still looms, focusing more on security forces. We ask them is it worth it? What legacy will we leave our children? The choice is yours!

Happy Ulster Day!

Happy Ulster Day!

Ulster’s Solemn League and Covenant, commonly known as the Ulster Covenant, was signed by just under half a million Irishmen and women on and before 28 September 1912, in protest against the Third Home Rule Bill introduced by the British Government in the same year.

 

Sir Edward Carson was the first person to sign the Covenant at Belfast City Hall with a silver pen, followed by Lord Londonderry (the former viceroy of Ireland), representatives of the Protestant churches, and then by Sir James Craig.

We, their descendants, just as they were, are duty bound to defend our country and its people from any perceived threat to our way of life.

Flags

On 12th May 2016 the Loyalist Communities Council launched a Flags Protocol.

 

Its aim, to prevent our national emblems being left on display in a dilapidated state and asking that steps were taken to prevent this occurring.

Dalaradia, as part of the LCC, ask that, as agreed, all remaining flags be taken down on or as as soon as possible after Ulster Day – 28th September 2017.

Flags and emblems are highly potent symbols of community allegiances and are important demonstrators of our Loyalist and Unionist heritage and culture.

Please treat them as such – many thanks.

http://www.lcc-ni.com/
http://www.reachproject.co.uk/

Straight to work

5 days in and after some sight seeing and experiencing local culture the guys are now settled and its straight to work in Africa for the LCC Tanzania Project.

The purpose of this project is to promote team building, international work experience and youth development with the volunteers and to expose these youth to different cultures, religions and challenges and at the same time benefit the needy children of the orphanage. The aim is to make a difference both at home and in Africa.

 

https://www.facebook.com/lcctanzaniaproject/
http://www.lcc-ni.com/
http://www.reachproject.co.uk/