#B2B2017: Kaitlyn Shoukri Blog

Where do I begin? All I can say is that this really is a journey of a lifetime; believe it when we say “you’ll never understand until you’re really out there”. My journey so far has been such an eye-opener, breath-taking and astonishing… My journey from Belfast to Blanco all began on Friday when we met up at the Rcity Café for our last minute goodbyes before we set off to Dublin for our first flight. After the full 36 hours of travelling, we finally arrived in George in the early hours of Sunday morning – I was exhausted, however I was filled with excitement and enthusiasm at the same time. From day one in Blanco I have felt so welcomed, everyone here is so filled with life and joy – they are constantly just looking at the positive side of things. I’m so thankful for getting this once in a lifetime opportunity to come all the way to South Africa – I have had so many highs as well as lows so far within my journey, though I would never change any of it for the world; the things I have experienced are just unbelievable. On Sunday we first of all started our day by getting onto the Combi’s to go to Aunt Abiel and Uncle Charlie’s house as they were taking us to their local church. This time we spent in the church was one of my stand out moments within this journey as Dion who was speaking up front has to be one of the most inspiring men I have ever met – the words he spoke were so true, he just knew what he was saying and what he was on about. One of the sentences he spoke was “Tomorrow is never guaranteed to anyone”, from hearing this line come out of his mouth just really made me think back on life and that I should never take anything for granted… It wasn’t only the man that made this time stand out to me, but it was also the energy within the church – there was just so much life brought to it. The day we went to the Golden Valley was just indescribable; the buzz I felt within the group we were going up the “Famous Hill” was so overwhelming – each person couldn’t wait to jump off the combi as they didn’t know what to expect. A very precious part of this journey is about one of the special connections that grew between me and Lisa – Lisa is this small, shy 4-year-old girl from the Golden Valley (one of the townships in Blanco). The reason why this is precious to me is not only because I built a strong bond with a young girl, it was the fact that she chose me out of the whole B2B team. I heard stories that she barely smile’s or talks to anyone, that she would just look through them as if they weren’t even there… Lisa constantly put a smile on my face, but I was also putting a huge smile on her face which just meant the world to me – I was told multiple times “I’ve never seen a smile like that on her face before”. Listening to comments like that made it more special for me because I was the individual putting that smile on her face. The time that meant the most to me when spending it with her was on today (Monday), as I brought her away from everyone within the scheme to give her one half of a very special key ring. The key rings were in the shape of a broken heart that could be put together which said “Best Friends Forever”. I told her that one half is for me and the other half was for her, I told her how much she meant to me as well as that she will always be my wee bestie and that I will never ever forget her. The smile and the strong, tight hug I got from Lisa after this was so emotional, I really was the happiest girl at that township. Saying goodbyes to all the kids at the fun day today was one of the most heart-breaking moments I have ever had. All the kids were running up towards me giving hugs and asking me to stay, not to go home – hearing this just made me speechless. I also didn’t get to say a proper goodbye to Lisa, as her mummy took her away, I thought she was only taking her for a wee second… I turned round and asked where Lisa was, her mummy replied with “she is away home on the combi”, I broke down at this part because it could have been the last time I ever seen her! I have learnt so much throughout this journey, I have learnt to never undervalue anyone, I need to show my appreciation more and never to take anyone for granted… all these kids within the townships have so little yet they give so much, they are always laughing and filled with joy and it has just made me realise that life is short, live it to the fullest. From day one in Blanco I have been impacted upon in many ways from the debrief sessions and church services to the townships. It has really put my life into perspective. I have put myself right out there, I have given it my all and I know for a fact that my confidence grew and grew even though I thought that was impossible… I have given my whole experience here my everything and I would give anything to have this experience all over again with such an amazing not only a team, but a family. The most important thing I am going to be bring home from my experience is to spend so much more time with my family, in likes of my nanny, my granny, my brothers and so on. I will also be more appreciative and thankful for everything I get. I want to be constantly helping and putting smiles on each and one another’s faces and to just become my positive, happy self again. “The happiest people don’t have the best of everything, they just make the best of everything” 

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