Exiles Forum

Lisburn, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland


Former Friends' pupil travels to Kenya with Christian Aid



Ruth Miskelly

Ruth Miskelly

A FORMER pupils at Friends School has headed off to Kenya with her new employer, Christian Aid.

Ruth Miskelly, (19), is travelling as part of her GAP year with the international development agency, in whose Glasgow office she is now working.

Ruth first arrived in Glasgow a year ago to study speech therapy at Strathclyde University. She chose the city because she was told that Glaswegians have 'a similar sense of humour to the Irish, so you'll feel right at home'.

But, though she loved the city, Ruth decided that speech therapy wasn't for her and over Christmas 2006 decided her future lay in international development. She applied to join Christian Aid's GAP year programme, was accepted and started in the charity's Glasgow office in August 2007.

Ruth's role is supporting students in the various universities in the city, and she's looking forward to the new experiences the Kenya trip will bring.

"I really can't believe that I'm going to get to see Africa - I feel privileged to get the chance to meet local people and learn from them", she said. "I hope to see clearly the effect that my lifestyle has on the lives of others, be inspired to make changes where my behaviour has negative impacts on other people and, knowing the positive result that Christian Aid projects can have in local communities, be encouraged that global issues are not too big to be tackled.

"I'm glad that I am in a position that when I come back I can share what I've experienced with a wide range of students in Glasgow, not just my family and friends. This will be a real chance to make a change and live out my faith."

Ruth and the 17 other GAP year volunteers travelling from Christian Aid offices around the UK will spend two weeks in Kenya, a country where more than half of the population survives on less than $1 a day. Life expectancy there is 49 and six per cent of the 34 million Kenyans are HIV positive.

The volunteers will visit Christian Aid partners working on economic justice, livelihoods, climate change and HIV projects.

Robert Pearce, Christian Aid GAP year manager, said: 'We've been delighted with the popularity of the Christian Aid GAP scheme and have been oversubscribed every year. "This year is our biggest group yet and we recognise the enormous contribution these enthusiastic young people make to the organisation. They add a new dimension to our work and are an invaluable resource in reaching out to the 16-25 age group." The scheme is open to anyone over the age of 18 who wishes to take a year out during or after studying, or who just wants a change in their career. For more information about the scheme send an email to or visit

Ulster Star