Published on 23rd July 2016
VSAConnect coordinator Pat Martin meets a family with the volunteering bug...
When volunteering runs in a family, it’s usually parents’ stories from a generation ago that inspire their children. Just occasionally, children stir their parents to discover what it’s all about. And sometimes, like the Hogg family from Dunedin, all are bound by a lifetime of adventures.
Rachel Hogg, as a UniVol in 2008 in East London, South Africa, often emailed her parents, Roger and Judy. On returning, she enthused about her 10-month assignment. “I made them watch a slideshow of photos and strongly recommended VSA.”
As it happened, Roger and Judy were thinking about a stint overseas and Roger says Rachel was “a huge influence” on their decision to apply for an assignment. In 2010, Judy accepted a teaching assignment in Mdumbi, 300km north along the coast from where Rachel had worked, and a role was soon stitched together for Roger. “I remember very excitedly going over a map with Dad and pointing out places he had to visit,” Rachel recalls.
During Roger and Judy’s assignment, Roger ran computers at a backpackers’ hostel, supported an orphans’ project and worked with an HIV/Aids team. It was a tough 18 months – living in a mud hut with a thatched roof along terrible roads, 120 km from the nearest hospital. South Africa’s highs and lows included a mugging, a robbery, and stunning views of whales out in the bay from where they lived.
The friendship of former VSAConnect coordinator, John Bowis, and his wife Alison, then on assignment in Eastern Cape, was a big support. Roger and Judy passed Nelson Mandela’s birthplace when travelling south to visit them.
VSA were always confident Roger and Judy could handle South Africa’s challenges. The couple had lived in Tanzania
all of 2004 while Roger taught in a Theological College. A former Ministry of Works engineer, he spent 20 years as a theology teacher.
In fact, the entire family understood the rigours of travel. In 1990, Roger and Judy bundled up the four children, including eight-year-old Rachel, and travelled through South East Asia, South Asia and the Middle East to reach London. From there, in a newly purchased VW campervan, the family toured Western Europe for six weeks. Twenty countries were visited that year.
Today the entire family enjoys videos of that global jaunt, and Roger still swaps stories of South Africa with Rachel. He says that volunteering and helping others is part of the family’s ethic and flows naturally out of their church work.
Rachel says that being encouraged to be independent had a big influence on her decision to volunteer. On reaching age 18, Roger and Judy loaned each of their children the price of an aeroplane ticket overseas. “It was a subtle message to get going.”