Africa is not just a place, it’s a feeling”.
This feeling I have is indescribable. There is constant happiness and warmth throughout my body from the day I arrived.
Yesterday getting back to the crèche to see all the kids especially Skyelah was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. I have never been so excited. Skyelah is the little girl I noticed standing in the corner on her own on our first day there, she looked down and I just wanted to make her happy so I approached her. I asked her name five times before she answered with “Skyelah”. For a half an hour I sat trying nothing but my best to put a smile on her face but nothing would work, she just seemed so sad. In that moment I set myself a challenge, I wasn’t leaving that crèche without having her smile and laugh at least once. Another hour passed and she still hadn’t so much as smiled, I lay down on the grass with her and tickled her face tried playing peekaboo - still no change in her emotions. Finally after hours of building trust and a safety net between us I rolled her over on her back and tickled her legs. In that moment this child let out the loudest, happiest laugh I’ve ever heard, my whole body tingled, I’d never felt joy run through my body like this in all my life. So when I walked back into the crèche yesterday my eyes were drawn to her straight away as she was glaring right at me. As soon as the kids were dismissed to go outside I ran and grabbed her. We spent the whole afternoon together and I wouldn’t have wanted it with anyone else or any other way. To think that the first day I met her she was odd around me, whereas now she has developed trust in me and has shown more of her personality to me which as a feeling is unreal. Knowing that I am making that little difference in these kids’ lives is amazing. I have built a great relationship with a little boy called AD in the township, that feeling of trust is so nice.
One of the highlights of my journey occurred on the first day. Whilst exploring The Scheme with Aunt Abeil, one man allowed us into his home to show us how he lives. In my eyes, this couldn’t have been a home for anyone, the conditions were absolutely horrific to say the least, and for anyone to have to live like that is awful. He told me that he lived in this shack with his little brother who was also in the school at the time. Around his home was nothing compared to what my own home is like and what would be considered as luxury for him, although he thought it was everything and he had so much pride about his tiny, unsanitary home. I couldn’t comprehend with these conditions as my life back home is so much more luxurious than his. It makes you really think and begin to realise what you actually have and just how lucky we really are. The only luxuries these people have in their lives are feelings, not possessions and yet they are the happiest people I have ever met. I can finally understand now after witnessing the way the members of this town live. 100% isn’t about the luxuries but the common necessities in life that not even all of them have, for example only a bare minimum of these shacks have running water, not many have their own toilet, clothes or a even get a meal every day. It goes to show that there are people living of the bare minimum and highlights that life is much more than just the newest outfit, a fancy car or the biggest house ect. All these things are materialistic and unnecessary once you have witnessed these people’s homes and how they live.
Later that day we went to the scheme I came across this one girl called Lucina, who automatically reminded me of my own little niece. I sat with Lucina and some of her friends the rest of the day and just played, danced, sang and I let them plait my hair. And then it hit me, I am sitting it South Africa within the scheme in Blanco and doing what I’ve wanted to do for so long, make a difference. It may not have been a massive one but I know them kids were happy with my company just as much as I was theirs. This shocked me a lot as my niece lives no less than 3 minutes round the corner and I don’t make enough effort as I should be, all I could think about was “what if that was her?” The moment was most defiantly a wakeup call for me that I need to be more appreciative of what I have and who I have. They may not always be here, I need to cherish the moments and make as many memories I can with them, like the way I have with Lucina.
On the 3rd day we were going back to the Valley where I was reunited with my two new best mates from our first visit to the Valley, Enzo and AD. I stood in the Valley searching for them for ages whilst chatting with the other kids. I heard this loud scream shouting “donomin”, I turned round to find AD sprinting towards me with this massive smiling face and arms wide to the world waiting for me to open mine to greet him with a hug, and so I did. The rest of the day he stuck to my side and didn’t move. He didn’t speak much English but he didn’t need to either, even though there was silence between us there was a connection there that I have never felt before and suddenly it sunk in - these children don’t just want sweets, juice or items but they only want your time, love and attention. These are things that mean the most to them. Whilst sitting under the tree in the park with AD I heard Enzo, he ran over to me and greeted me with our handshake that we had made up the previous day and then a tight hug followed it. Sitting in this park with these two boys brought a tear to my eye, they are the two most loving and cheerful boys that have shown and taught me so much over two days so far and I am super excited to see what is next to learn with these boys. They are outstanding kids, just like the rest of the children in the townships.
So far this journey has been nothing short of incredible, I have already taken so much learning and developed my own connections with amazing people. I look forward to the rest of this adventure and what it is has install for me.
South Africa - Blanco is special, the people are special and the feelings are special. It has stolen my heart