#B2B2016: Caiti Quinn Blog

So it’s day 4 and this place is unbelievable! It’s the most magical and special place ever! Since I have arrived in South Africa it has been an amazing experience so far and I still have 11 days left to go before my journey ends. I now know when people say “you’ll not understand Africa until your there” and I can back that up 100% because it’s such a special place and it’s hard to explain to people what it’s really like because you actually need to see and experience Africa for yourself.

So today everyone was buzzing because we were going back into the township for the second time and I was feeling amazing, I couldn’t wait to get stuck in even though the weather wasn’t great this morning. We got into the township about half 9 and we were driving up in the combi and all the kids recognised us when we drove up to Stella’s house, the kids ran after the combi and it was just great to watch. We got out of the combi, all the kids were whispering and laughing to their friends. The boy that was with me when we went to the township the first time came over to me and gave me a hug and I felt class because he had remembered me! I gave him a lolly and a few sweets just to make him happy and he couldn’t thank me enough! I picked him up and we just looked around the place and when I was doing this I was taking everything in, the scenery, the kids and even seeing my team being the happiest they have ever been! Joe and Dynsey called all of the team in and he explained to us that we were going to split into 3 groups. My group was doing the sanding and painting the walls in the container just to brighten the place up a bit, it was good fun because we all had a smile on our faces and we were all so happy! One of the groups fixed the stella’s garden and the other group was to just play with the kids. Gareth came in and snapped a few photos of us painting the container. I swapped with one of my team members so I could play with the kids for a while and this girl called Nia came over and hugged my leg and she wanted me to pick her up. I picked her up and she looked at me and just snuggled into my neck, I felt so happy but emotional at the same time because it was raining and she had no shoes on. Clothes wise she was wearing just a wee top and shorts, but that didn't stop her from being happy. I got her to call my name and every time I called her name, she called mine and it was just a class feeling!

After the teams were done their tasks Joe and Dynsey called us over again, they told us that we were going to participate in a group session with people our age from the township. I was so excited because we were going to be apart of this session and it was a chance to get to know them better and ask about their lives in Blanco. We were told leave the kids at Stella’s house and it was hard because Nia didn't want to leave my side but i promised her I would be back for her in about an hour. So we were walking up towards the park to meet the teenagers and we stopped just to reassure ourselves that respect is needed in this group session. I walked over with the rest of the team and sat in the circle with the B2B team and the African people. Sean and Steven were taking the group session, Sean told us to go round in the circle and tell everyone your name, age and where your from. Steven then took a lead in facilitating the ice breakers and we played the game called Human Knot and it was so funny because our team didn't even complete it once and we just started to cheer and pretend that we actually completed it and we never.

After the icebreaker we were brought into the circle again and paired in 2’s and 3’s, every person from Ireland was paired with a person from South Africa. I was paired with a girl called Alexia and our task was to get to know each other more. Me and Alexia went and sat in a space in the field, I could tell she felt awkward and was shy because I used to be like that myself and I was always quiet and now I never shut up! I asked Alexia “ What’s life like in Blanco?” She basically said it’s good because of her family and friends but she also said its dangerous at night because of the gangs because they take drug and alcohol and i told her its the same problem in Ireland with alcohol and drugs. I could relate to her so much because she reminded me of myself, she loves sports as do I, she does kick boxing for her sport and I just thought that was amazing. Alexia goes to school and is currently studying to be a doctor, she wants to be a doctor because she loves helping people. Alexia wants to help her community become a better place and i was actually mind blown listening to her because she has a positive mindset and she has her career set. Alexia reminded me of myself because I didn't get up in a group and talk or even talk to someone I didn't know. I told her you need to push yourself out of your comfort zone and not to care what anyone thinks because “if it doesn't challenge you, it wont change you”, thats what I have learnt and it’s benefited me a lot. Alexia will honestly achieve her dream and she will go far in life and she's an amazing girl!

After that session I had a chat with Dynsey and he was asking how I found it and I said “ it was unreal because she was just like me and I wanted to help her become more confident about herself. I proper loved the chat with Alexia, I could talk to her for ages. I feel like I’m growing and learning everyday, I’m just so happy at the moment! Africa changes you in many ways because I’m more outgoing and I have more confidence. I can see myself change and it’s also good that other people notice a change in me. For our lunch we went to this view point of the valley but we were standing face to face with a rainbow it was so close to us and it was a unreal view because it overlooked everything. The rest of the day we just went to get some internet and a bit of frozen yoghurt and as a team we all get on so well and that’s what I love about Africa it brings you all together as one.

The quote that means most to me while being in Africa is :”When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would have not a single bit of talent left and could say, I used everything you gave me!” I have learnt a lot from the group and when days go by I’m still learning. Words cant describe the feeling you get over here and Africa is an amazing place. It provides amazing oppourtunity and I just feel lucky I got to be apart of this special journey.

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