Success Stories

We support all organisations that offer to help you arrange a Project – and we recommend none.  However, below we offer you some stories from the successful Projects that have been  carried out by award recipients in the past.  They may help you to formulate your ideas.

At the end of each success story we have put a link to the website of the organisation that ran that Project so you can check them out.

Callum's Cambodia Project

I’ll never forget the smiles on their faces …

In 2018 Callum was appointed Project Leader for the University of Leeds’ Cambodia Project. The project allows students from the University to go to Seametrey Children’s Village, a primary school near Phnom Penh, Cambodia and teach a range of different subjects to the children, although primarily they taught English …

As Project Leader Callum’s role was extremely varied. He had to put the team together, find sponsors to support the fundraising for the project, and communicate with the School Director and different authorities. He had a lot of responsibility when it came to the well-being of his group, making sure that they were fit to work both mentally and physically, for the project was both draining and exhausting. The average working day ran from 7am-3.30pm and the students taught English to different teachers and workers after school too! Callum’s group joined with other volunteers at the school – young people from Germany, Austria, Indonesia, Mexico, France etc. all worked together to help at the school and make a difference to the lives of the children that they were teaching! The mix of nationalities was a real bonus for the project. It allowed the volunteers to interact with people from different cultures, backgrounds and experiences.

All of Callum’s group had individual classes to teach throughout the day and they also made a video with the children which you can see at

Callum taught a range of subjects from English, Science and Maths to Music, Art & Craft and Sport. This allowed him to see the children in different settings and to see where their skills lay. Each of the children are incredibly talented in their own way – whether it comes to their Messi-esque footballing ability, brilliant drumming or their fantastic craft skills. It was a pleasure to witness these children
have fun and enjoy life at school. For many Cambodian children, the reality is that they are unable to attend school or have any form of education. Often, especially for the village children, their childhood consists of labour, helping in the family shop or even worse begging on the streets. This school works to give these children a positive start to life that has the potential to propel them from poverty into a life with good prospects.

Callum will never forget the smiles on the faces of the children that he taught. They were mesmerised by the volunteers, by their way of life, even the way that they spoke. For Callum, to be able to bring the children such enjoyment, even if it was only for two months, was a real pleasure. The volunteers were teaching these children invaluable life lessons – whether it be washing your hands before you eat, or teaching them English vocabulary that they can use in everyday life – Callum knows that they had an positive impact.

Finally, Callum would like to thank the Bursray Fund for as it made a major contribution towards funding the project. This award enabled Callum to help the lives of hundreds of children in Cambodia, and to leave a legacy at the school. And countless memories for Callum that will remain forever.

We are all so special

We are all so special …

Emma is 23 years of age, a qualified teacher, who was fortunate enough to be a pilgrim on the HCPT’s Group 177 pilgrimage to Lourdes. Group 177 contained 8 ‘VIP’ guests, who had diagnosed learning disabilities. These children provided the group with a very special purpose – to bind our Catholic community together and support each other through serving Christ’s mission …

Each evening gave group 177 an opportunity to participate in group prayer. One particular evening which stood out for me (Day 4) was ‘Being Thankful’. As quoted:

“Find a way to be thankful for your troubles, and they can become your blessings.”

Given all the difficulties and troubles which we all face this really encouraged Emma to reflect upon the power of being thankful, and how all of us can transform our lives with the power of Jesus Christ.

As a musician, Emma was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to take part in the regional Mass, a very powerful experience which allowed Emma to thank God for her talents and also to recognise and appreciate the talents of others. The Mass was also an exceptional experience in itself, with a very clear and poignant message – you are special. A great part of the pilgrimage experience was getting to converse and meet other HCPT groups and also from the international HCPT family. Meeting others reminded 1 of the strength and solidarity of what we were doing as pilgrims and reminded her that there are plenty of other young Catholics who are committed to Christ’s mission.

Emma found that having the opportunity to visit the grotto and the baths was a spiritually moving experience. For her, it was a particularly poignant experience due to the reason which brought us all together as a group – the children. It allowed her to reflect upon her own life and be grateful for what she has as a young adult. Furthermore, as a teacher, it reminded Emma of her mission as an educator and the importance of remembering that Christ has a special plan for each individual and that she is instrumental to this.

Emma finishes by reflecting upon what was, for her, the most special moment – the torch light procession; holding a candle in one hand representing the light of Christ and holding the hand of an autistic child, who needed her for support and direction. It reminded her that we all have a purpose in life – no matter how big/small or no matter where we come from – we are all God’s children and most importantly we are all so special.

Emma finishes by thanking the Catenians for their generous financial support.

Project Organiser: HCPT

Teaching and Learning in Zambia

Teaching – and learning – in Zambia …

Ruth spent a year in Zambia organised by Project Trust, teaching in a large girls’ boarding school. She found that whilst the school was far better equipped than she was expecting but the classrooms were quite basic. Basic resources like plain paper and pens could be difficult to get hold of especially near the end of the month. All the science teachers at the school were male, so Ruth’s arrival gave the girls a role model of a woman who enjoys science …

The biggest challenge Ruth found teaching her classes was that they were too used to a lecture style of teaching and so struggled to think for themselves. She tried to make her lessons as interactive as possible and question them to test their understanding – not just their knowledge.

Ruth lived in a house with her fellow volunteers, which had two bedrooms, a living room, a kitchen and a bathroom. The housemates had to collect water from a tap outside, and the water was only turned on for an hour three times per day but they quickly got into a routine of fetching water.

The pupils had prep every evening which gave Ruth an opportunity to give extra help to classes or individuals that were struggling with particular topics. Ruth also got involved in many extra-curricular activities. Long distance running is one of her favourite hobbies so she volunteered to coach the schools athletics team, and also coached the Badminton team.

Ruth’s last few days in Zambia were very emotional, saying goodbye to her pupils and many friends. She reports that “the school threw a party to say farewell to me – including making me do a dance on my own!” Ruth feels her time in Zambia has been an incredible learning experience and she knows that she will never look at the world in quite the same way again. She hopes that her pupils learned to enjoy science, but she knows that she learnt a lot from Zambians – about making the most of what you have – and living a relaxed life.”

Finally, Ruth wanted to thank the Bursary Fund for their generous financial support without which the year would not have been possible.

Project Organiser: Project Trust

Little things can make a really big difference …

Megan participated in numerous projects, mainly construction-based, and learnt how to make cement with a shovel and how to lay a course of bricks. The team of volunteers built a retaining wall for the safety of the village community in Tinagol, as well as building a kindergarten in Bongkud …

She also had the opportunity to teach at the local school in Mantanani Island to help with their conversational English and to get them involved in some fun English games.

During her stay Megan picked up some local Malay phrases and learnt their traditional Malay dance, which added to her whole cultural experience.

Megan reports that being totally immersed in a different culture has definitely enhanced her appreciation of life. It has developed her understanding of how little things can make a really big difference in the lives of others. She also feels that the Project has helped her to grow as a human being and to become so much more appreciative of the benefits she enjoys. Along the way she also improved her team working and communication skills as her group wrestled to address the many challenges they faced.

Finally Megan asks that her grateful thanks should go to the Catenian Bursary Fund, without whose help her Project would never have taken place.

Project Organiser: Camps International

Youth empowerment in Zimbabwe

Elizabeth spent a two-month placement in Zimbabwe organised by the International Citizen Service (ICS). Working with ‘Restless Development’, an organisation that focuses on youth empowerment, she worked in two local schools in the small community of Biriiri, Chimanimani. Her primary role was to deliver sessions focusing on life skills and tackling issues such as alcohol and drug abuse or gender equality…

Whilst in Zimbabwe she lived with a local family, the Tuso family who opened their home in Biriiri to her and displayed such generosity of spirit.

Sadly, Elizabeth’s programme had to finish early because of security concerns in Zimbabwe. Even so Elizabeth reports that the friendships and connections she has made have educated her in so many more ways than just a simple cultural exchange, and they have offered her different perspectives on issues that she had never previously considered. She found it incredibly inspiring to see so many young people wanting to make a change and there is no doubt that her project has changed her life for ever.

Whilst in Zimbabwe Elizabeth was keen to meet with the local Catenian Circle and was grateful for their support and hospitality as well as the financial support from the Bursary Fund, which made it all possible.

Project Organiser: International Citizen Service (ICS)/Restless Development

Lourdes was a really special experience …

Eden went with the Salford Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes.

She writes:

“My favourite part of our week was the second to last day when we had an evening reflection for all the youth volunteers. The reason that particular evening was special was because we had the time to reflect on the reason why we all came to help others – for some of us it was simply to experience something new, but to many to perhaps have a closer relationship with God and to feel loving Mary’s blessing over something that may have been in our hearts …”

The evening turned out to be a very emotional night and we realised that it was so easy to get caught up with the hustle and bustle of Lourdes and volunteering – but there was something about that night, the candles and personal reflections shared made it so personal and meaningful.

Overall, Lourdes was an absolutely amazing experience that I truly will remember. We all made wonderful friends who we all still keep in touch with and enjoyed spending time with. All the pilgrims were very funny and entertaining and we all found it humbling hearing them thank us numerous times for all we helped them with.

I would absolutely recommend Lourdes to each and every person and I would love to go back again next year! Thank you to the Bursary Fund for supporting both me and my friends on our pilgrimage.

Project Organiser: Salford Diocese Pilgrimage

And the cooks are essential too …

Adam from Manchester volunteered to join the crew of MS Africa Mercy, a hospital ship run almost entirely by volunteers that tours Africa offering life-changing medical assistance to people who, without it, would have no opportunity to cure their condition. Adam recalls that he can’t remember how many life-changing and life-altering procedures have been carried out on the ship since he joined it – or how many lives have been changed for the better …

Adam’s role on the ship was to be the ship’s chief cook and he and his team daily fed 400 crew and medical staff and countless patients. “I cook from the heart” says Adam, “and I can’t tell you how pleasing it is to be complimented and praised by the crew for my cooking, or to see the patients digging in to my food with a will.”

Adam strongly encourages all young people to do as he has done and “Follow your dreams by volunteering. It’s so worthwhile,” he says, “and has strengthened both my faith and my belief in humankind.” “And I couldn’t have done it without the Bursary Fund,” he says, “thank you all so very much

Project Organiser: Mercy Ships

Helping with care of AIDS patients

Amy travelled to Malawi to help at the Umunthu Foundation which is a clinic offering HIV/AIDS testing and both pre and post care for patients. She joined a team of volunteers and participated in two work streams – a post-test club and with home visits. In the post test club patients would come and discuss their issues and Amy says she enjoyed the discussions and learnt so much from them …

Amy was also able to teach English and Maths for a couple of days at Bright Era Primary School. She says she had such an enjoyable time teaching, meeting the bright Malawian children and so many dedicated and most friendly teachers.

Amy feels that she learnt so much about herself and the world around her in Malawi. Her experiences highlighted to her how lucky she is to have a comfortable life in the UK and how much she takes for granted. She hopes that in some small way she has made a difference there. “I will for ever be grateful for the generous support offered by the Catenian Bursary Fund” she says. “Without it I may not have been able to go to Malawi and learn so much.”

Evangelising young Americans

Having gained her degree at Uni, Claire from Scotland was uncertain about her future – about what to do next. She just knew that her faith was important to her, and decided that she should ask God to help her in the choice of what she did in the future. She knew that she needed to pray and sufficient time to listen to God and so she volunteered to spend a year with the National Evangelisation Team (NET) Ministries in the USA …

Claire travelled to Minnesota where she took part in 3 month long training programme with 175 other volunteers. On completion of the training the volunteers were broken into teams of about 12 and then set off around the USA giving retreats at schools and parishes to young people between grades 6 and 12. Claire acted as the team leader for one of these teams and spent her 9 months ‘on the road’ in the mid-west visiting 16 states.

Claire found that her team of young volunteers were able to connect with and inspire the young people they met. “Young Catholics really don’t have much of a chance for the formation of their religion”, explains Claire, “and are much better able to discuss these matters with other young Catholics”. But most of all the project has taught Claire herself to trust God more, to give him her worries and to trust in his love. “Above all”, Claire says, “the year has taught me to make God my priority. He really
does have my best interests at heart!”

Having had a successful year, Claire has now returned to do it all again! This time as a senior organiser of the evangelisation teams that travel around the USA. Claire admits that she wouldn’t have been able to undertake this ministry without the support of the Bursary Fund, and she is so grateful that our support has enabled God to work to change her life.

Project Organiser: NET Ministries

Less than AU$1.25 a day

The Fund was delighted when it was asked to help support thirteen young men from St Bede’s College, a Lasallian School in Melbourne who wished to participate in a school project in India. This would involve them raising money and then travelling to India to help build houses and offer general support for a rural village. Most of the villagers live under the poverty line of AUD1.25 a day, and most never even make that, so it was help that was much needed …

The help that they boys gave was simply life changing. They took with them clothes, supplies of food and building materials to donate to the villagers which help to keep them above the poverty line and off the streets. “Going through this really tough experience you really bond with them very well. The look on the family’s faces when we finished a new house for them was just indescribable. It was just the best experience.”

The extremes of climate, the heat the monsoon, means that their houses wash away every few years and so there is a continual programme of work undertaken by the school to maintain the village. Without the School’s support, the villagers would return to abject poverty. The Bursary Fund grant ensured that all 13 boys travelled to India and had a first-hand experience of the poverty of others. “This was a life-changing experience, that I will never forget”.

Project Organiser: St Bede’s Catholic College, Melbourne.

Making a difference in Uganda

Joe joined the Action Sitaru project in rural Uganda. He and his team of volunteers had three aims; to improve access to clear water, to promote hygiene awareness, and to promote the knowledge and use of smokeless stoves …

Whilst there is no shortage of food, and the region sees lots of rain, it lacks the infrastructure and facilities to ensure safe drinking water. So Joe and his team addressed this by protecting a spring in the neighbouring village by digging back to the ‘eye’ of the spring and then using rocks and concrete to create a chamber behind a retaining wall from which the spring now issues.

Their second task was to promote hygiene awareness and to build a rain collecting tank at the village thus taking away the need for a half hour walk to collect water for pupils at the school and allowing more time to be spent on lessons. Joe and his team focused on key messages such as when and how to wash your hands as well as demonstrating water purification methods like boiling all drinking water or using Moringa seeds as a natural alternative to chemicals like chlorine.

Joe is so pleased that he went to Uganda, where he learnt a lot about the world and about himself. “Thanks to the Bursary Fund I feel that my trip has change my life for the better” said Joe.

Project Organiser: Little BIG Africa

Building teacher’s accommodation in Kenya

Emily went with the Lasallian Developing World Projects to St Mary’s School, a Lasallian school in Nyeri in Kenya to help build teachers’ houses. Emily was involved in the very hard work as a builder’s labourer assisting the Kenyan builders, moving bricks, carrying cement and water and eventually creating home-made scaffolding as the buildings progressed …

A focus of St Mary’s is that it is a rescue centre providing refuge for children who have lived on the streets or suffered abuse or are orphaned. Emily says she was so impressed by the boys who had nothing, and yet worked so hard and wanted to do so well, not only to bring themselves out of poverty but also their parents and siblings too. They were always so happy and so grateful for what little support we can give. This really made Emily reflect on the attitude of people in the UK, how we all complain and get upset if something isn’t perfect – but at the end of the day kit doesn’t matter. “This will resonate with me for the rest of my life”, says Emily.

Emily reports that her trip to Kenya was nothing like she had anticipated and it has already and will continue to change her life forever. Emily is forever grateful to all those, like the Bursary Fund, who enabled her journey and experience.

Project Organiser: Lasallian Developing World Projects (LDWP)

Amazing, inspiring, challenging and even frightening

Amazing, inspiring, challenging and even frightening …

Hayden is almost 5 months in to his 12 month placement in Chuuk, Micronesia teaching Primary and Middle School level at Sapuk Elementary School and is learning and loving the experience more than ever. Chuuk is a place like no other in the world, and it continues to amaze, inspire, confuse and even frighten Hayden, but most importantly, makes him feel very welcomed …

Teaching at Sapuk Elementary School is a tough challenge but one that Hayden and his companion Alex have tackled head on with energy and enthusiasm and they are delighted by the promising improvement they have seen in their pupils in only a short time in Chuuk. People’s original reaction to finding out Hayden were heading to Chuuk, Micronesia was met with strange looks and the simple question of “where?” and the answer he now gives is “an oasis in the pacific where the rest of the world’s problems seem distant and irrelevant.” This has allowed him to immerse himself in a culture that is unique, interesting and vastly different to what we know.

When Hayden arrived the community made him feel very welcome and invited him into their homes and lives to share food and the local language. The first Sunday Mass Hayden attended was a living example of the community. Neither Hayden nor Alex could tell you any of the readings or songs in that Mass, but they both remember one thing: the homily focused on ‘special memories’ and as the sun silently set over the horizon of one of the outer islands of Chuuk Lagoon, they sat in the elegant outdoor chapel atop the hill surrounded by strangers with whom they would soon share a timeless bond – this was indeed one of those special memories.

The rest of the year ahead promises to be one of these prolonged special memories. Within the short time Hayden has been here he have grown ever more confident as a teacher and has made some relationships that will be sure to last a lifetime. Chuuk really is a place like no other and a small reflection or some photos cannot do it any justice. As Fr Dennis Baker SJ told us, “This is a part of the world that the rest of the world knows nothing about. It’s our special little secret, and I like to keep it that way.”

Hayden is incredibly grateful for the support, encouragement and funds provided by the Bursary Fund to support his project which have already gone some way to making a difference in Chuuk.

Project Organiser: The Cardoner Project

Serving in Vietnam

Serving in Vietnam

Peter spent 8 months as a volunteer with the Salesian Community of Dong Thuan in Vietnam, organised by Bosco Volunteer Action (BOVA).
Dong Thuan is a boarding community that provides a safe environment for around 200 poor and disadvantaged boys and 25 girls aged generally from 14 to 19. The fees are at a “minimum level” and certain scholarships exist in order that some of the poorest children can attend (about 30 every year) …

Throughout the placement, Peter taught basic English to several groups of Dong Thuan students and also to local school students for an average of 1 hour per day. Classes were either 30 minutes or 1 hour, and the number of students varied from 1 to 30. Learning English is important for the students as they are likely to get jobs in factories where some of the machinery might have parts with English names.

Peter also helped some of the Salesians themselves to practice and develop their English. English is the second language for the Salesians around the world so it is essential for the Vietnamese Salesians to have good English.

Perhaps the most important commitment of the placement was Peter’s presence alongside the Salesians in their community activities. Whenever possible, Peter attended daily Mass, took part in chores and shared communal meals. Throughout his placement, Peter wanted to use his time to live in solidarity with the poor and be a useful team member. He hopes that the students saw him as a positive role model and will remember his companionship.

Peter feels that he has learned an enormous amount in Vietnam which he expects will help him as he moves on to University. He certainly faced many challenging new experiences throughout his placement but feels that he gained so much by spending time with the Vietnamese people and learning about their culture and history. These experiences will help shape the rest of his life.

Project Organiser: Bosco Volunteer Action (BOVA)

Finding joy, love and peace in Uganda

Finding joy, love and peace in Uganda

Aine volunteered with Education Partnerships Africa and worked in a secondary school in Uganda, where our group undertook four projects. Our first two weeks were spent helping to build a concrete water tank that could be connected to the local water supply …

The impact was immediate as the children could spend more time in school instead of having to go and collect water.

Her second project was to install three energy saving stoves to replace the existing ones that had broken. These would save the school up to £350 per year. She also discovered that two staff had died in the past year from the smoke from the kitchen stoves which had caused throat cancer. The smoke was also getting into the food and was affecting the students. The new stoves produce 80% less smoke than the original stoves and with the ventilation that we added, it is our hope that fewer problems are caused in the future.

One evening in particular sticks in Aine’s mind. A Ugandan called David and Aine were cleaning the dishes after dinner when he said this to her:
“We do not have much and what we do have is broken and battered. It is a hard life when you do not know whether you will have money to feed your children. But I know that God is with me always and he has given me the strength to carry on. When you feel that you have nothing in the world, know that you will always have God. He has brought me you, Aine, ‘she who has compassion'”
That is what Aine’s name means in Runyankole, (a tribal language spoken in West Uganda). Aine reports: “I have never experienced anything like the level of poverty, deprivation or the struggles that David has. But I am inspired that through it all, he is as faithful to God as anyone I have ever seen. Going to church in the local village in Uganda is an experience I will never forget. It was a room of people full of love and joy and peace and I am so grateful to have experienced it.”

Aine wants to say a massive thank you to the Catenians for the financial support that we gave her which has allowed me to volunteer for this project. Aine will continue to volunteer for Education Partnerships Africa and hopes to return to Uganda in a couple of years to continue the work that she has started. For Aine it was an unforgettable and humbling experience and she encourages anyone who wishes to do this type of work.

Project Organiser: Education Partnerships Africa

Xavier, from Sydney, spent a year working for others in Vietnam and Thailand. Xavier and another 14 boys from St. Aloysius and St. Ignatius College started off by spending a month in Saigon in Vietnam visiting and helping in local parishes and with a trip to an Aids clinic. Xavier found visiting the aids clinic particularly moving as with limited access to money, everyone who entered the clinic knew their days were limited. The second part of their stay in Vietnam was spent helping in an orphanage for five days. Whilst many children were victims of Agent Orange or neglect, this orphanage, run by a group of nuns, had an atmosphere of hope and happiness …

Xavier and his group then moved onto Thailand for the next 11 months. There they learned about the plight of the hill tribe people who have become casualties of the border between Thailand and Myanmar. Xavier and two of his friends stayed about an hour by motorcycle away from the rest of the group, living in a dormitory with high school kids and teaching at the local high school.

Xavier admits that whilst they were all a bit hesitant at first, after Improving their Thai and being embraced so wholeheartedly by the community their confidence grew, and Xavier likes to think that the quality of teaching and interactions with our students also improved. Seeing the students improve in English was always exciting and satisfying. Xavier recalls that it was such fun to teach people of his own age who had similar interests and humour. Moreover he was incredibly inspired by the Burmese refugees he taught there who were some of the most talented English speakers and dedicated students he taught.
Xavier finishes by recalling that 2016 was the best year of his life so far – a year where he felt humbled by the people he met who had so little and who were so welcoming. Xavier ends by thanking the Catenians for their financial and moral support which helped to make the whole thing possible.