Tom Phillips teams up with World Vision

A 22-year-old AFL star experiences what it feels like to be in a world outside of footy.

Tom Phillips teams up with World Vision

A 22-year-old AFL star experiences what it feels like to be in a world outside of footy.

World Vision Australia recently announced Collingwood Magpie Tom Phillips as our latest Goodwill Ambassador. Stoked to be working with us, he made a trip to Rwanda to spend time in his role as ambassador.

Tom spent a lot of his time visiting communities that were supported by World Vision. Here, he experienced firsthand the lives that millions of Rwandans live every day. Out of all the challenges faced by community members, access to clean water was the most pressing issue.


 “I met a family where the mother had to daily cart water from the nearby river to the family home. I didn’t realise this could be a dangerous task. But her husband, due to a debilitating childhood illness, was not able to assist her,” Tom said.

“Water collection is a very physical chore and traditionally done by men in this community, and because water is now such a contested resource, some of the men would beat up the mother to stop her accessing the water,” he added.


In another community Tom had the opportunity to take part in the weekly meeting of a savings co-op. He was shocked to find out that one of the reasons why the co-op was introduced was to deter young girls from taking to prostitution to raise money for their families.

“Most of the kids running the savings co-op are teenagers,” Tom said. “As I sat there listening to their stories I couldn’t help but think how superficial the things a lot of young Australians, myself included are stressing over. It was quite confronting.”


During his stay in Rwanda, Tom spent some time in the Gihembe Refugee Settlement where he found a sense of familiarity running a short AFL clinic for the children. Despite the differences in culture and circumstances, he felt a deep connection with the young Rwandans who shared his love for sport.

Refugee camp or not, Tom easily noticed and was impressed by the competitive spirit and talent the children had in them. “It made me realise that kids anywhere just love to play and just like Aussies, many play to win!”

Recognising the troubles faced by these communities, Tom realised his role as ambassador – to take the responsibility to educate young Australians about things they may take for granted, like access to clean water, which can be a daily and often dangerous challenge for millions of people around the world.

Now back in Melbourne, Tom returns to the field for his pre-season training with a lot more perspective than before. He hopes other Australians, including his team mates, will support the amazing change-making work of World Vision.