Fitness trainer Matt Godfrey is preparing to leave his weights at home and head to Uganda to celebrate his 35th birthday by visiting the child in Uganda he sponsors through World Vision UK.
Matt, from Edgware in London, began sponsoring Julius in 2017. “My dad was a vicar and he died in 2016. I was looking for something that would honour him and fit his values. I don’t get to church as often as I used to but supporting charities is important to me and to who I am,” he says.
World Vision is a global children’s charity inspired by the Christian faith that works to bring hope and transformation to poorer communities in more than 100 countries.
“I know that my donations make a difference to Julius and his whole community. It’s helping someone on a completely different continent and a completely different country.
“I’d never met him, but I know I have been making a difference – helping him get access to some of the things I take for granted. It makes me grateful I have electricity and a roof over my head. I live a life of luxury compared with what Julius probably has.
“Mental health problems have plagued my life. I still have rubbish days where I’m not feeling particularly great about life or myself, but as soon as I think about Julius and the purpose I serve him I feel fine. His letters can make a world of difference on an average day and really put things into perspective. There is always someone more vulnerable and less fortunate than yourself that you can help.”
From a track and field background as a youngster and with sport and fitness being Matt’s passion, it was the path he chose throughout his education and today Matt works as a personal trainer and sports coach. As well as being a fitness fanatic, Matt’s passions include sprinting, animals, football, hanging out with friends and watching his beloved Arsenal football club.
“I try and teach others to become better people through health and well-being,” says Matt, who gets on the plane to Uganda on 27 December. His meeting with Julius is set for 29 December.
The vulnerability of people in Julius’ community was brought home to Matt when he heard the news of a recent Ebola outbreak. “I was a bit concerned it would have implications for the trip and it was a reminder that I am going to a country where they don’t have the NHS or the availability of vaccines. It shows how here in the UK, we might be going through something really hard ourselves, but it could be a lot worst.”
After his trip to meet Julius Matt will be staying in Uganda to do some voluntary work with Gorilla Conservation. In 2023 he is also planning a trip to South America – to Peru and Brazil. He hopes to do some work with the National Rainforest Trust – supporting the work they are doing rebuilding the Amazon and raising money by completing five marathons in five days.
“My work, hobbies, and beliefs all link in with my faith. I want to leave this world in a better place. I hope this raises some awareness and attracts other people,” says Matt.
For more information about child sponsorship and other ways to support World Vision click here.
Written by: Jo Duckles