#B2B2017: Jordan Carrigan Blog

My rollercoaster ride of South Africa. Believe me, this is no ordinary big dipper or water slide, this is a rollercoaster of emotions in terms of the wide variety of feelings and thoughts you generate within your head in such a short period of time. These thoughts and feelings come around from a personal perspective, in a way that you have conducted yourself in a certain manner, seeing something you have never witnessed before and watching the team around you having a positive impact or reflecting on what you have just done. This rollercoaster won’t make you sick, it brings you to highs and lows like never before. It won’t put you off doing it again because the people your working with, the team around you and the community as a whole reap the benefits of this positivity. The emotions that you feel and express to other people give you that motivation and determination to continue to carry out the work we are doing. Blanco is special. Why? The happiness that reigns within the two communities (Golden Valley and Scheme) is just unimaginable for somewhere that is slaughtered with poverty and the levels of crime speaks for its self. This is where my emotions where like that rollercoaster, seeing people living in some of the worst conditions possible with no running water, no electricity, no beds, no shoes or socks on their feet and a wall that separates the rich and poor angered and annoyed me greatly. Why do they deserve to go through this? Why are people letting this happen? This makes me thankful for the conditions I have grown up in. Amongst this I also managed to relate to their happiness, a lot of the time as I built a strong connection with one little boy – Jayden. This is where I felt the happiest of my journey. I learnt a lot about myself and how happy he was for the little things he had in life. He will always hold a special place in my heart. I have never felt anything like these before in my life and this feeling is a lot more than happiness. The reason is because I know what I have done is special and unique, to me as a person. Spending time with this young kid will be something he never will never forget and to hear him tell me that I am his best friend and that he’ll love and miss me makes me feel on top of the world. Another stand out moment for me on this journey was working in the young offenders Jail. This was something that blew the group right out of its comfort zone and the reason for this was that we were so unprepared for it and also working with any criminal will be a challenging experience. Why was it special? I wouldn’t have believed it if I had been told what we were going to do what we did that day. This included working with 60 males ranging from 12-18 years old, with a variety of different crimes, ranging from rape to theft and this was so special because we were so limited in the resources we had and the few amount of us. Why would you shy away? This is what youth work is all about, adopting to difficult situations and scenarios and how the group conducted ourselves in there was fantastic from a personnel level and also from a team perspective. It was incredible to see how so many of the prisoners have a lot of hope for the future and how we were accepted so well with them. Walking out of that jail made me realise that you can do anything when you put your mind to it and how being out of your comfort zone makes you feel, it is incredible and it’s something I will now gladly do. A true concern of mine before embarking on this special, special journey was to not learn anything. How wrong was I to think this, as from day one to now it’s all I’ve done? It just goes to show how valuable it is to set yourself challenges and to reflect on what you have just done. Reflecting on the challenge’s that you may have set, by putting yourself out there, that is when you do learn that you can do the things you might not have believed in, helping your confidence and self-belief. Reflecting will allow you to realise what you have just done and what learning you can take from what you have just done, which was implemented so much out here. This experience has learnt me that time is one of the most important things to life and how when you spend time with someone you can make them feel so safe, loving, confident and positive within themselves. From showing the kids in Blanco that time and affection, they have also had a positive impact on me, how they respond and tell you that they love you after spending such a short time with them is phenomenal. This could be because they aren’t being giving that time when they go home, which makes me appreciate and couldn’t be more grateful for the time and affection my family show me. Another piece of learning I will definitely strive on from this journey is, how much I should appreciate things and to never to take anything for granted. Witnessing some extreme cases of poverty has made me realise how lucky I am to have the luxury’s I have back home such as running water, electricity and my own bed to sleep on at night. It’s crazy to think that the people in life with the luxury’s aren’t always the happiest and how happy the people of Blanco can be for what so little they have. This experience to date has made me realise that spending time with someone else is such a powerful thing. Many people complain when they don’t have modern day technology, but really its destroys so many people’s happiness in terms of how people be bullied through social media and how they are made to feel and be pressured to try and fit in. Whereas in these townships where people don’t have an iPhone or an IPad they are the happiest people to be around and the community spirit is unbelievable, because the feeling you get from spending time with someone and how Jayden has made me realise that is what helps makes Blanco such an amazing place. The thing I will be taking home from my journey is that being out of your comfort zone is an amazing thing to do. If you succeed at It, you feel that you can conquer anything and being confident in yourself and in your own ability is when you start to be successful. In the same way, if you fail being out of your comfort zone, well then you can always say you experienced it, but not only that, it will allow you to learn from your mistakes. ‘It always rains the hardest on the people who deserve the sun.’ 

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