Today we had organised a Summer Scheme trip to Red-Berry Farm the team were up early preparing for the kids of blanco to head on the trip. The weather wasn't the greatest but we still planned to go ahead with it. The group got their heads together & organised what was going to go on at the farm, making up party bags, working out who was on what stations as in beauty, face paints, tattoos etc & planning games for the kids to participate in. The first half of the group headed out to get set up along with myself, Paul McCusker & the designated driver Sam McCaw. Sam dropped us of & then had to head back to collect the other Half of the group who had all the resources & equipment sitting waiting on them to be picked up. When Sam was on his way back for the other half of the group, Pierre was heading of to collect the kids from the township, who were coming to meet us for the summer scheme, the drive was 20/30minutes away. As we got to the farm the first half of the group were buzzing as were the rest of the group who were waiting at the house, this was down to getting to spend time with the kids once again as they've had a massive impact on the group throughout the past few days, building relationships & getting to know some of the kids through one to one engagement & just showing them that they care. We sat down ordered some drinks & got chatting about, wishing that sam & rest of the group would hurry up & that we cant wait to see the children again because we had so much planned, hopefully it would be a day for the kids to remember. So you could imagine how the group were feeling at this moment in time buzzing, excited, energised.
After about 15/20 minutes talking & waiting on the other half of the group coming to meet us Paul McC received a text from Paul Dynes, he had text to say that farm was cancel due to the bad weather, to us the weather wasn't to bad as it was only a light shower. At first we said this is a wind up because there has been some amount of banter & jokes within the group. If it were true, we had no clue where we were, no transport to get back to base as Sam had already left to go collect the other guys from the group & Paul was the only person who had been before & don't think he new the way back. Through the moment from receiving the text the young people had different thoughts running through theirs heads, is it true or is it not. They kept telling themselves that it wasn’t & kept a positive mind saying they wouldn't do that on the kids, as we were sitting talking away around a few of the benches we seen the combi come up the lane of the farm. We all sort of smiled & said to ourselves there’s the rest of them happy days it was a mess around, only to see it was sam on his own, we all said the text was true then. Suddenly i think we all got that draining feeling if something bad had happened. The group were annoyed because they were buzzing to see some of the kids from township again. It put a real downer on the young people at the farm & as they all put some planning & real hard work into the day. We packed up the stuff that we had brought & got into the combi then headed back, not many words were spoken between the group due to the fact that the day was cancelled and this was now reality, the buzz & excitement had gone. If this was the way that the young people of the group were feeling, you didn't even want to start thinking of how the kids from township were feeling, sad & let down.We understood that many of these young people never got an opportunity like this and it would of been the highlight of their Easter holidays. This was a massive & fun packed day which they had now missed out on . For us all it really wasn't a good start to the day, the weather had just ruined maybe one of the greatest days on this journey, as the rest of the days have been amazing. On the way home all sorts of thoughts were still running through our heads. we got to base & join the rest of the group. We spoke about what we could replace the day with & we came up with heading to the mall doing some shopping & having a bit of a chill out time. As the past few days in the township had been very busy with jam packed stuff.
Heading to the township on my first day i didn't know what i was feeling or what to expect. The first hour was the hardest because your a stranger in somebody else’s community, your the one everybody is looking at & it made me feel worried about what was coming my way as it was all new to me. But as the minutes went on things got easier because residents started saying hello & kids started to play around you & wanted your attention. From the start of the journey i had painted a million pictures in my head on what Blanco township was like, but these pictures i had didnt even come close to the real thing. I went into a place not only where i felt welcome after meeting some of the people but i felt a sense of happiness & love. The people were happy to see us which for me was very reassuring. This made you feel so good and i could now focus on what it was i set out to do which was to make changes not only in the young people of Blanco but to make changes within yourself. The group were determined to get stuck in, Pierre told us what needed done & away we went. Over the four days in Blanco all the young people had the opportunity to contribute to the community in a positive manner. One task the group got stuck into was the renovation of the park another was the completion of the food drops and finally the food service at the clinic. Ill not go into this to much as the blogs done by the young people have told such an amazing story.
About my experience so far & it will start with priorities that i have set myself for when i get home. This is the important goal i want to achieve. The most import one is my daughter Rhea. I really realise this when being in the township from Monday to Thursday, i realise back home also but never challenged myself on it because i was always working. The reason behind this was the time i was spending with the kids in the township, i was spending up to 7/8 hours a day with them making them smile bringing happiness to them each day, which i absolutely loved & wouldn't change a minute off. Spending this time with the kids made me realise how important it is for me to start spending more time with my beautiful daughter & work less (tiny tears here). It was hard for me to take in that the amount of time i spend with her wasn't & still isn't good enough & thats down to my own fault. This was due to me thinking that i needed to work more jobs to get more money to keep my partner & daughter happy this wasn't the case. Money doesn't bring you happiness, time does & give your kids plenty off it. And seeing that in these kids faces over here speaks those words, all we have to give these kids is love & time, some of these kids don't get that over here their mums or dads throw them out first thing in the morning till late at night, thats why my precious little daughter needs time from me to have that special relationship & bond. Being here without not just her but my partner also has made it hard because it makes you think a lot about what changes you need to make to yourself & the goals you want to achieve, its only you who can do that.
These goals are being achieved slowly but surely throughout the journey so far, this is down to the debrief sessions that we are having after each night, getting recognition from others in the groups telling you how well your doing & getting on with your goals that we have set ourselves. What I've learnt is that the young people on this journey are a great group to be around & a privilege to know. These young people have brought the best out in me they've actually put pen to paper & told me want sort of person i am in many different ways & how much I've came out of my confront zone, how much they look up to me, its gobsmacked me. It tells me that these goals I've set myself are being achieved because the young people are noticing it & it makes me feel amazing. For the young people in this group they've made this journey for me amazing & 100 times more. This group are a special group of young people they've a bond that is unbreakable, who also have potential coming from everywhere. The skills & qualities they've gained personally & as a group are next to nothing & all have bright futures ahead of them. Writing this makes you feel proud sharing these moments with them. I know their families,friends & communities are proud because they are out here making a difference not just to Blanco but to everyone around them. Seeing how much they've grown from the start to now is incredible & they will continue to grow year in year out. Also staff have had a major factor in what I've achieved up until now, especially Sam & Dynsey, they've brought me on in possibly the best learning experience of my whole time as a Youth Worker. I couldn't thank them enough for what they've done for me along with Gareth, Paul McC & Caitlin who have also been super all of them & the young people; who have brought the best out in me. Not to forget Turley & Waitso without them this experience wouldn't be possible thanks lads 2 main men.
I’ll finish off by saying Blanco is an amazing special place, not one word or picture could define this beautiful community & maybe one day i could visit again. TIA
“Everyday is a blessing.”