#B2B2018: Joleen Duffy Blog

Joleen Duffy

“I’ve learned that fear limits you and your vision”

To believe that it was finally here, 2 years of group work was done and it was my turn to begin my journey to South Africa. The feelings and emotions that go through you here is unbelievable it is so eye opening and gives you a real wake up call on how ungrateful and lucky you really are. This quote stands out for me as it’s something I’ve thought about before I went to Africa, if you have fear and don’t take the risk you won’t get anything out of it, but if you take the risk and it fails you’ll learn from it and learn to grow as a person.

Wakening up this morning and feeling that “Africa buzz” felt amazing, I was so excited to jump in with both feet and take every experience and learning from the day with both hands. As we pulled up to the fun day hundreds of kids ran towards our combi completely buzzing to see us. It’s when stuff like this happens it’s the stuff that hits you most and you realise that your doing something right, when these kids are so delighted to see you.

“It’s the little things in life that matter the most”

As I got of the combi and walked into the field a little boy who I had a brief conversation with the day before was standing in the field waiting on me, this really hit home for me, why a child so young from the other side of the world who had no clue who I was or what my name was, was standing waiting on me.

As soon as he seen me he ran straight over with a smile from ear to ear and gave me the biggest hug. I spent the whole day with Morne and his little brother, the love and care they showed for me was surreal and for me to show them it back I know they felt the love that they may not be getting at home when they should be. While at the fun day Morne made us a wee canvas with both our names on it saying “best friends” this for me was indescribable, I spent no longer than 40 minutes with him at this point and he already called me his best friend.

A little bit into the day Mornes little brother had taken his top off to get on the water slide, when he went to pick it up he had realised someone had taken it from him. This made him so upset and I could see the heart break in his face, He reached out for me to pick him and give him a hug for a bit of support, as this was happening I turned to see Morne taking his top of I knew straight away what he was doing and this is when it really hit me and I realised how these kids really have nothing and are still the happiest people in the world and would do anything to make sure the people around them are happy no matter what. As he handed his little brother his top my eyes started to fill up, I had so many emotions through me some happy and others sad. At this very moment I really felt the “Africa feeling” I really was here.

During the fun day I was dancing about with all the kids and went over my ankle, as soon as this happened morne and his friends all ran and grabbed me as I couldn’t walk, as I got settled morne came walking over to me with my bag as I dropped it when I fell. When he heard I was going to hospital he gave me the biggest hug and said he hopes that I would be out to see him dance at the talent show later on that night. When I walked into the church hall for the talent show staff and members from my team came over and told me that he was there and was asking about to see if I was coming. I had then realised that I had build a strong relationship with a boy from the other side of the world, this made me feel unbelievable I had a smile from ear to ear.

“Aim for the sky, but move slowly, enjoy every footstep along the way. It is all those little steps that make the journey complete”

My experience in Africa cant be put into words, it really is true when they say there’s not a day in Africa we’re you don’t wake up with a smile on your face. My favourite part of the day is when we’re all bouncing onto the combis and making our way to Golden Valley or the Scheme. On Tuesday we headed to golden valley to do the food drop, during this I took time to walk by myself to think about my experience so far and to reflect on my learning, during this I learned so much about myself that I hadn’t realised. In our last group session we talked about taking the “mask off” and be who you really are. At this point I truly knew my mask had started to come off and I was really getting something out of this experience.

Before I left I had a few things in my head that I wanted to achieve during my journey, after hearing Deon speak i started to really think about my goals and how I was going to achieve them, listening to Deon speak I was tuned in and took in every single word he said and noticed that every single word was true. A part that stood out for me the most was when he talked about “why wait to do stuff later when you can do it now”. This stood out for me as it’s something I say nearly everyday, during my journey it’s made me realise that you never know when it’s going to be the last time you say good bye to someone and I need to appreciate everyone around me while there still here.

“Do difficult things while there easy and do great things while there small. A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single foot step”.

While spending time in a very special place called Golden Valley I met two girls called Kateline and Melizine who had me running about looking like Snoop Dog. Forever these two will hold a place in my heart as well as Morne, from that every time we headed into golden valley they would be both standing at the tree waiting, and once they seen me they would run with the biggest smile on their faces and jump into my arms. While spending time with them they asked me would I take a photo of them, when I did this they asked me could I get it printed out and put it on my wall so I would always remember them. To hear this I felt overwhelmed and emotional but at the same time I felt amazing and so happy that I was doing something right and had an impact on them.

“Nothing special but special things keep happening.

My experience a week in has been nothing but amazing! There is no words to describe the feeling while here in Africa. I’m so excited to get back home and put everything I’ve learned into my own life and make myself a better person and to keep the mask off for good. Forever and always South Africa will always hold a place in my heart and I hope one day I’ll be back to see this real special place.

Joleen Duffy

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