Far removed from the privileged life she's grown up with, seventeen year old law student Eilish Maguire counts her blessings every day.
Eilish travelled to Malawi in South East Africa earlier this year. She along with four other Australian teens were selected to travel there as part of World Vision's Youth Ambassador Program.
World vision's Kate Hanlon says the program is about giving young people the chance to make a real difference in alleviating poverty. In Malawi programs are helping communities become sustainable and deal with malnutrition.
“I think that they're often confronted for the first time with what desperate poverty and chronic hunger really looks like but most of all they see hope and they see that they can make a change,” explains Kate.
Malawi is in a really desperate situation there's 16.3 million people… half are children and 60 per cent of those are living in poverty.
“It was tough seeing little kids running around who didn't have enough to eat and wearing clothes that we wouldn’t even use as rags in Australia… the comparison was crazy you'd come home and see all this food in your cupboard and you'd think I don't need this, there are people out there that don't have this but instead of feeling guilty you had to feel grateful and think you are so lucky to have the things that we do that all of us do,” says Eilish.
“I think I was expecting to see sadness everywhere and poverty and hunger and be really confronted by it and although it was sad and there was so much poverty around, I was so amazed by how positive and happy they were despite their situation.
The teens also visited a local school… “We find it a chore to go to school whereas these kids we meet were so excited to be there and they could tell that this education was a gift… In Australia we have classes of maybe 20 people to one teacher and these teachers who are struggling themselves, they're having to deal with 200 - 300 students in one day,” says Eilish.
Now back on home soil Eilish is telling her story to thousands of other South Australian students, encouraging them to make a difference in any small way.
“My message will be to be aware to open your eyes and be appreciative… and by doing something like the 40 Hour Famine, something so simple, it really provides so much hope for people living in Malawi,” says Eilish.
And it's changed her own hopes and dreams... “My ideal goal would be the United Nations working in humanitarian or human rights… So eye opening, life-changing, something I'll never, ever, ever, forget.