Summary of your journey so far….. “The right timing is not always our timing, things come to us when we need them to rather than when we want them to” and I think anybody that knows me will know how much I can relate to that quote. Until right now while I’m sitting writing my blog in Africa, I didn’t realise the true meaning of it and value that it had. I have learnt the importance of never giving up for what you want because when you have to work extra hard for it, the feeling gets even better. For me, my journey to Blanco began at our last session. Going in to have our very last group before we went to Africa with all of my team was full of so many emotions. Walking out the doors of the Houben Centre and saying “see yous’ in the morning” felt so surreal. I feel that our last session brought us all even closer together and we were just so ready to be on our way to Dublin. When I woke up I literally felt nothing but so much excitement and when I walked into the R City Coffee shop and seen our suitcases ready to go and all of my team I felt even more excited. Everyone was really emotional saying goodbye to their families but as soon as we got on the bus and got the speaker on nobody was even thinking about home we were all just completely buzzing to get to Africa. The travelling felt so long and it felt like it dragged in but every time we reminded each other of where we were going we just got a big rush of excitement. Friday we went to the valley and the scheme for the first time. No matter how much you think your prepared, you never are until you see the way people actually live. You can hear about something a million times and think you’re ready to see it, but when you see it with your own eyes, it takes your breath away. To know that there are people living in a house made of tin and cardboard with two beds for 6 people is just so unfair and it makes you appreciate everything you have an extreme amount more. I have never felt more welcome into somewhere in my life, anywhere we went there was always someone inviting us in to their house and they made sure they said hello. It was just simple we gestures like that, that made me smile. I have learnt today that true happiness doesn’t come from materialistic things, it comes from the heart and the love and affection you give, and that you also receive. When we were in the scheme with so much kids round us, playing with our hairs and wanting hugs, I remember sitting down with one of the kids who stuck to me the most in my arms while she was sleeping, she was called Soyna, and observing everything that was going on around me and I was bursting with pride and happiness. These children know what having a real kind heart is and they would literally give you their last breath so you could have one more. One of my standout moments of today was when I had a tin of Fanta and gave one of the kids the rest of it, when she was finished she took the opener of the tin of, and put it inside the tin and was shaking it about and played with it for ages as if it was an instrument. She found so much entertainment and fun out of something so small that we would put right into the bin. “In Africa you feel grounded in an indescribable way because by choice I had no connection to the outside world or technology. It forces you to be in the moment because you don’t know what the next minute will bring. There is a constant sense of awe and surprise.” How is the feeling amongst the team….. There is no other way to describe the way my team was feeling today other than on top of the world. literally felt that we had the whole world in our hands and that we could do anything. To be sitting in a different country with a team who this time last year, I barely knew, to now having the most amazing friendship with them is such an indescribable feeling and I wouldn’t want to do my journey without them by my side. How does SA differ from Belfast….. When comparing Belfast and South Africa with each other, I feel that where we live, there is a certain expectation to live up to and certain things you have to accomplish in order to be “successful” but these people literally haven’t got one thing, and consider themselves as the most successful people on earth all because they are genuinely kind and loving people. And to me that is the real meaning of success. What learning will you take home with you….. I am going to take a lot of things home with me and one of them is to just be happy, no matter what you have, what you don’t have, what you want, and what you need, just be nothing but happy because what we have now, someone is praying so hard for it. This was only our first day and I feel as if I have been here forever, I can’t find any words to describe how excited I am for the rest of my journey and to make so much more memories that I can treasure forever. “You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place”.