#MyDreamIs || Tim Magowan


In 1992 I was dreaming of a good career. I had just completed 2 years at law school in England and was on track to do well. Out of the blue, I got an opportunity to spend the summer before my final year helping to run a summer camp for African-American children in Philadelphia. That camp smashed my dreams to pieces.

Every day, in one of the wealthiest countries on earth, we ran a camp for children, many of whom were so poor they showed the tell-tale signs of malnutrition. When their parents came to collect them we discovered that they had had few opportunities, were incredibly poor and carried little hope in their hearts. They lived in a community dominated by local drugs gangs who had so much control that we needed their permission to run our camp – none of the girls in our team were to be touched they said and none of the boys were to be seriously injured!

At our camp we played games, sang songs and gave out free breakfasts. Over the 10 weeks, I tutored a 10 year old boy who introduced me to the amazing words of Martin Luther King. While reading King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech with him, I began to find much needed hope in his words and saw how the simple practice of mentoring could help dreams of struggling people to come alive.

Over that summer and for the next few years, I immersed myself in King’s hope filled words. In particular, two lines from his Nobel prize acceptance speech have shaped my life profoundly. ‘I have the audacity to believe that all people everywhere have the right to three square meals for their bodies; education and culture for their minds and dignity equality and freedom for their spirits’ he says. ‘I believe what self-centred people have torn down, other-centred people can build back up again’. In those words, the seeds of a new dream for me was born – a dream of being part of a movement of people which enable others to flourish and thrive.  

Since then, I have been fortunate enough to meet incredible people around the world who are part of that movement. I think of Chali, a blind Ethiopian farmer whose vision has enabled his family and community to improve their farming practices and thrive.  Or Sam, a disabled HIV+ farmer from Uganda, who​ used​ his gifts to establish a flourishing business which supports his family and a life changing charity, which has brought help and hope to scores of people who are living with HIV. 

In the Bible, the Prophet Isaiah outlines a vision of ‘A new heaven and a new earth’. It’s a vision of a flourishing world where people will plant their own food and build their own houses. A world where children don’t die at a young age and old people live to a hundred. It’s the vision of a world of well being and of good relationships. It’s a vision of a world which Martin Luther King, Chali and Sam have helped to bring more into being.

My ​dream is to enable people who struggle to flourish and thrive. What’s your dream? And what steps could you take to live it out today?

Tell us what your dreams are here.

Tim Magowan is the Director of Tearfund in Northern Ireland. Find out what they are doing about human trafficking here.