#B2B2018: Aoife Loughran Blog

“Africa changes you forever like no where on earth, once you’ve been there you’ll never be the same” This quote has stuck by me the whole way threw my journey so far. I am so grateful to have been selected for this amazing opportunity as it is something I wanted to do since I started R-City nearly two years ago. Yesterday we visited Red Berry farm and done two sessions, the first one with children from the crèche and the second with a selection of children from the valley and the scheme. We had a brilliant day and it made the kids so happy to be with us although I was really upset I didn’t see Keesha, Ebony or Alisa and didn’t get to say my final goodbyes.

During my journey the valley has had a massive impact on me, from the way it looks on the outside is small, cramped and all the people would be sad but the people who live here are the most caring loving people I have ever met in my life, and some of them I didn’t even have a conversation with. Not one person in this township would pass you without a smile or without saying “hello”. I realised this place had a special place in my heart. On day 2 we done the food drop. I stayed alone walking around the township because I had the speaker and was playing some chill music, this is when I got “the Africa vibe”. This feeling is one I have wanted from the day I got picked and something I always said I was looking forward to when I got here and it’s nothing like I imagined it to be. In the park where we played with the children there was a grave yard right beside it, you could see the headstones from where we were sitting having fun. This is something I just couldn’t understand, back home graveyards have there own place to be and here they are beside a children’s play park? This made me feel sick, I had a horrible knot in my stomach looking at this but it made me feel happy because of how happy the children were playing as if it was normal, because obviously it was to them. In the Golden Valley I met a very special little girl called Keesha, on the day I met her she ran up to me in her school uniform as we were walking to the park, she held my hand and from that day she stuck by my side. This made me feel like I was doing something right with her and I hope I made her as happy as I could!! My stand out moment with Keesha was when she finally spoke English to me, for the first while she was hiding it but when she was finally comfortable around me she showed it by speaking amazing English to me and coming out of her shell. After this I felt amazing and was so proud of myself for being able to do this with a child who only knew me for a few days!! On the first day we went to the scheme and here I meant two outstanding little girls, Alisa and Ebony. They hold and always will a very big place in my heart. When I met them on the first day I had nothing with me at all and still they only wanted my love and attention and I give them all I could. This hit home for me as I have 5 younger cousins at home but two baby ones and don’t spend as much time with them as I should and as much as I would want to. I felt so much love for these two children and I only knew them an hour or so. The next couple of days we didn’t go back to the scheme but when we did go back I was looking for them and didn’t see them for a while, after an hour I saw 3 girls walking up, Alisa and her big sister Cindy and Ebony!! I called Alisa and Ebony and I’ve never saw 2 girls run as fast in my life and they ran straight to me and into my arms. This made me feel so amazing, they were so young and remembered my name and face the feeling was indescribable!!! One of the days all the girls went to the beach to hear Pastor Norman’s story, it was so shocking but class to hear what he’s been through and how he over came it all. After we heard his story we all had a talk about what our stand out moment was and who we feel could support us in the group when we needed it. This was an unreal session just getting to hear how everyone felt and how much our group could rely on each other for guidance, I feel this helped me open up by just remembering we were all on the same journey but our experiences were different. One of my favourite stand out moments was when I met a girl called Mela in the Valley. The first day we saw her she was running behind everyone kicking and slapping them but, I called her over to me a few days later and just played with her and hugged her and she calmed down so much. I think this must have been something she may have saw at home and that’s why she was hitting, but all she needed was someone to give her their time and attention and it’s one thing I thought I would do. I really stepped out of my comfort zone doing this because I approached her but it was so worth it!! This whole journey has had such a special impact on my life, it is one thing I will never change or never ever forget it’s just so surreal and it’s so true when people say there are no words to describe how safe Africa makes you feel. It is a home away from home and I WILL be back, the impact it has had on me is life changing and will hold the biggest place in my heart forever! I have well and truly had the most indescribable and incredible journey with an unbelievable team, being able to watch each and every one of them take off their mask has been outstanding it comes from my heart when I say I couldn’t have done this journey without them because I really couldn’t. I have made friends for life and I hope they all got what they wanted and needed to get out of this amazing journey. I couldn’t have imagined a more amazing group of people to be in this special place with because every single one of them mean so much to me and I hope they all know that!!

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