"I hope (and believe) we did our club justice out there by working hard."
A few weeks back, a group of Millwall supporters, staff and volunteers made their way to Kenya, representing the Millwall Community Trust and helped with a number of local initiatives in the African country. For this article, we sit down with Millwall season ticket holder, Teddy Bellamy as he tells us what the trip to Kenya meant to him.
1. Some great experiences and fantastic to see your work out in Africa. Tell us, though, what did you think when you first saw the appeal to get people to fly out there?
My first thought was that it was a totally different, potentially once in a lifetime, experience on offer and something I would never have considered if it wasn’t for this scheme.
2. What drew you to going out to Kenya to help?
Volunteering like this is a totally new experience to me and I’m always keen to try new things and see different parts of the world, as I think it gives you more of an appreciation of the true situation. Also knowing I could give something back and make a difference was a big draw.
3. The pandemic and other logistics meant the trip was postponed a few times. How did it feel boarding the plane when you finally had the trip confirmed?
It was exciting to finally get going and dive into the trip after waiting so long for it. I was also excited when I found out all the drinks were free on board.
4. What was you most apprehensive about before you went out to Kenya? Also, what was you looking forward to the most?
Sickness - So I went and got jabbed up like a human dartboard, was popping malaria pills like smarties and gassed out our room twice a day applying bug spray.
I was looking forward a lot to the volunteering - we knew how much it was needed and I knew the feeling of satisfaction it would bring knowing you’ve helped out those less fortunate, and I was correct.
5. How did it feel when you landed, what were your first thoughts?
First thought was, “Please don’t be a problem with my visa, I’m not ready to spend the night in a Nairobi prison.” Then followed three hours of wondering why on Earth Alex was taking so long to pass a Covid check.
6. Seeing some of the photos you put online of the work in the schools was inspiring, but describe what it was like for you when you first visited the school, the pupils and staff?
Incredible welcome, the welcome we received every morning was lovely. The first morning we spent getting to know the children, and it was really heartwarming to see how happy they were despite not having much and the love they had for total strangers who they knew were there to help. It made us all very determined to work as hard as we could in the time we had to make a difference.
7. You didn’t just help with the school while you were out there, but you also went to a few locations which really put how we live in perspective. Can you explain some of the people and towns that you visited?
The landfill slums stand out as being the most shocking and it’s something that will stick with me forever. It’s heartbreaking to know that people live in that level of squalor. Families of four in one pitch black “room” surrounded by rubbish is hard to witness. The smell was unbearable for the 30 minutes we were there, I couldn’t imagine having to live with it constantly.
8. The trip will have left some life long memories for you, what will you take from your time in Africa?
Short term: a really good tan.
Long term: a massive appreciation for everything I have and perhaps sometimes take for granted. But, it’s also given me a desire to go back again and do more work to help and hopefully change people’s lives.
On a more selfish note, it was incredible on our excursions to the Lake Nakuru national park as well as the Thomson Falls waterfall - an exhilarating sight that I’ll remember forever.
9. How did it feel to represent Milwall as a club, Community Trust and as a fan base?
Proud, as I always feel whenever representing the club in any capacity - which is why I’ve been involved in a lot surrounding Millwall for many years. I love the club and making any contribution I can to it and I hope (and believe) we did our club justice out there by working hard and bringing some light into people’s lives. I loved our volunteering group representing Millwall together - a feeling of togetherness when we all headed out every morning kitted out in Millwall kit for the common cause.
10. Finally, what message do you have for those who would consider signing up to a similar scheme in the future?
Just do it! You’ll regret it if you don’t. The positives to your life are endless - you get the incredible buzz of helping those less fortunate, make friendships/bonds that will last a lifetime and get to see some beautiful parts of the world that you may not otherwise get the chance to.