Today was our sixth day in George and after four straight days in the township of Blanco we would not be going in today and you could tell this just by the way the group were this morning, usually everybody is up buzzing around the house and ready a half an hour before we are meant to leave but today was different. Nobody had that buzz around them, it took longer for everyone to get up out of bed and get ready but eventually we did and we were on our way to the wilderness beach to meet up with 12 teenagers from the township and it turned out to be a much better day than any of us ever expected.When we got there we had to wait around for a while as Pierre and Sam had to travel to Golden Valley to collect the group of young people. While we were waiting Dynsey came up with the bright idea of a game of rounders, which was completely not fair as Gerard Magee was placed in our team who is undoubtedly the worst player to ever be involved in the game (substituted after 20 minutes for big Paul McCusker who wasn't the best of replacements either) safe to say we got beat.
Shortly after the game of rounders the group from Golden Valley arrived and it was easy to tell how much it meant for them to just get out of the township for a few hours, they were in a safe environment, to be themselves, not having to worry about anything and just enjoying themselves. We could tell from a distance they were loving life running down the beach with a smile from ear to ear to see what we had in store for them. I said to Dynsey that I would like to take the first ice breaker to challenge myself and to put myself out there to a group who I had never met before or knew anything about. We got them all in straight away, formed a circle and got the name game going which is just music playing, one at a time going into the middle of the circle, introducing yourself and doing a dance move and it was brilliant we had a laugh, everyone was getting involved which was a great start.
After this we played some more activities, I felt like this gave us the opportunity to get to know the young people on a more personal basis as there was 12 of us and 12 of them and I personally found this great because coming on to the project one of the things I really wanted to improve was my confidence in one on one situations when engaging with others and through this I heard an amazing story from one of the young people that I interacted with. He was telling me that he is a long distance runner, what his training schedule involves, how well he is doing at the minute and that he aspires to be running at the Olympic Games one day. This just made me realise the potential and hope that the people of Blanco have despite the day to day challenges and tough living conditions they have to face. Later on in the day we all had lunch then headed back to the house to find out what we would be doing that night.
I found today at the beach was exactly what the team needed because it was more relaxed and calm compared to the 4 intense days we had in the township which was filled with mixed emotions for everyone. The first 3 days working in the township were filled with joy and happiness for me as I gave it my all and enjoyed offering my help and support to the people of Blanco. During these 3 days we took part in various activities and tasks such as food drops, building fences, creating a vegetable garden and interacting with the kids of course. I enjoyed taking part in these tasks as it gave me an insight to how the people of Golden Valley actually live, I also spent time getting close to a young girl called Muna who no doubt has the best smile in Blanco. She was one of the first kids to approach our group, while we were playing games she smiled and laughed at the most simplest things and when I started dancing she was the first one up to dance alongside me, I knew from there we’d get along really well. Being with her and spending time doing the silliest things but still laughing made me realise that it really is the small, costless things in life that we really need like someone spending time with us, offering love and affection are all that really matter.
The 4th day in the township I didn't really feel myself as I knew this might well have been the last time I seen Muna. Driving into the township I was really looking forward to seeing her but when I arrived at Stella’s she was nowhere to be seen. It was around 2pm and she was still not about so I took matters into my own hands and got Carla to bring me to her house to go see her, when we arrived at her house we asked was Muna in but her mummy said she had just left to go up to Stella’s so immediately I ran back up to spend the last hour with her and eventually I got to see her, it completely changed my mood and that’s when I realised that how much of an impact she had on me when the whole time I always thought it was about me trying to make her happy. Leaving wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve done but knowing it may be the last time I see her on this journey ,I left her with a few presents from me but most importantly a smile beaming on her face.
Tonights debrief session was not as it usually would be, instead we were split into 2 groups and we were each given a little booklet. The leaders explained that we had to pass our books around the other members of the group and we each had to write what we thought about each other and how we have progressed throughout the journey so far. Hearing the feedback from other members made me realise how lucky I am in life to have the opportunities that I have had and the chances I have to fulfil my potential, it also felt brilliant being able to tell the others the good work they have done so far and how good they really are.
It may only be a week into our journey but already I have learnt so much and it may just be the best week of my life with the most amazing people, not just our group but also the people of Blanco. They have welcomed us with open arms, made us feel at home, gave me the learning experience of a lifetime and I can’t thank them enough for this and if this is only what the first week holds, then I cannot wait to see what our second week has in store.
Altyd glimlag- Always smile
Life is not about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself!