Well, we’ve finally arrived in South Africa and experienced our first amazing day of many! Already people have come leaps and bounds towards their goals they set at the beginning of the B2B project. No one knew what to expect and were feeling very anxious at what South Africa had to offer, however everyone has settled in and Africa has brought everyone out of their comfort zones and built up everyone’s confidence.
We left the Hamer Youth Club at 8 am on Friday, full of energy and excitement at the prospect of going to South Africa. However little did we know the extent of the travelling involved. After a short wait at Dublin Airport we boarded the plane, where i was stuck beside Paul Dynes and Ciaran Gormely, what an awful way to start the journey! After the seven hour flight to Dubai, everyone was beginning to feel tired and restless. We spent four hours in Dubai were we got a McDonalds and got a well deserved rest, after that it was back on another plane, this time for the worst part of the trip… the ten hour flight to Cape Town. Eventually, we were finally in AFRICA! When we arrived, the welcoming was second to none and already we were surrounded by South African culture. We then embarked on our final part of travel, which was the six hour drive to George, on a cramped combie which I feared would break down half way there… it didn't, thankfully. On the Combie we had the luxury of seeing the beautiful scenery of that South Africa had to offer. However, it was not what i expected as on the journey there where various TOWNSHIPS that we seen, i couldn't believe people actually lived like that! After the long journey we finally arrived at Pierre’s house at seven, where we got a lovely dinner and had time to relax and chill before the hard work really began.
On our first proper day, we were up for eight, got washed, scoffed down our breakfast and were straight on the combie, not even knowing where we were going, it’s safe to say no one knew what to expect. Finally, we reached our destination, which was the church; the least I can say is it’s nothing like our churches or chapels back home! After the singing, dancing and praying in the church, we returned to the house where Pierre led a few activities that were simple but taught valuable lessons.
Personally, on the way the I couldn't believe what I have seen, it was scary! The perception of Africa is not what you think, immediately after leaving the airport you drive along a motorway and a township right beside it, which stretches for miles and miles. Already you could see how close the wealthy and poor live together and the huge differences in their lifestyles.
Already, within a few hours of arriving, I have began taking steps towards reaching my goal I set at the start. The lads decided to rearrange our room due to the cramped space, although weren't we sorry we did that! When we moved one of the beds a lizard came flying out sending everyone on to the top bunks, with the girls and of course Pierce screaming in terror (Pierce decided to name the lizard Carlos). One of my goals from the beginning was to develop my leadership skills and this helped immensely! I knew if we didn't catch the lizard everyone would refuse to sleep, so I decided that i would take control of the situation and get rid of it. So, with Pierce’s pillow case I grabbed the lizard and released it back outside. Although this was an experience in itself to say the least, it really built my confidence and displayed to myself that I can show leadership. This new found confidence really helped for what was coming today…
Although today in the church affected me in various different ways, what particularly stood out was the happiness and togetherness of the people in the church. The church was four concrete walls with a tin roof and a stage. such basic structure made me realise that it’s not about the building of the church, it’s the people that fill it. The people were utterly devoted to God and full of passion about their religion. Their compassion, love and faith really inspired the group and me to join in on the singing and dancing. I was so surprised at myself getting up and joining in on the dancing, as it is way out of my comfort zone! I was really proud of myself that I had just threw myself into the deep end, due to the smiles and laughter of everyone around me. Their happiness was infectious, these people have so little, yet so joyful and demonstrates happiness doesn't come from materialistic wants.
A smile definitely does go a long way!