Summary: The group session the night before we left really set the tone for the journey. On the back of the session the group seem to have become a lot closer, more confident in sharing things and motivated for the journey ahead. After the long flights we finally arrived in Cape town, the whole group were buzzing when we landed even though we still had to tackle the 6-hour drive to George. The drive to George was amazing from seeing huge townships leaving Cape Town, to beautiful sights and mountain ranges up the western cape. Knowing we were going into Blanco the next morning I stuggled to sleep on Thursday night.I was feeling nervous, yet so excited. Our first day in Blanco couldn’t go any better, it’s a special place that will be in my heart for lifebecause I had the opportunity to experience Blanco through the My choice programme last year. The tour around the scheme and valley was really eye-opening and emotional, it brought everything back. Seeing what people live like is terrible and made me upset off what I take for granted back home.
Once we finished the tour it was time to head back down to the scheme just in time for kids finishing school. The first two people I saw coming down the road, wearing their wee Cliftonville tops I give them last year was my wee mates. These kids running down like Usain Bolt. Seeing them remembering me was amazing, bringing a tear to my eye shouting “Tootsy where have you been?” As the day progressed our group were amazing making the kids so happy and of course the lads being like big kids playing chases around the park with about 20 kids. You will never beat a feeling like Blanco it’s an amazing place with kind people. How is the feeling amongst the team? The whole team was busted and grumpy after the travelling the first day which was expected. After a good night’s sleep my team and I were motivated to achieve all our personal and team goals. How does SA differ from Belfast? Appreciation is the first thing which comes to mind. So if you give a child a sweet or drink they will share with about 4 off their friend which is class. Back home if my brothers ask for a bit off food they will get told to spilt but for sure now when I’m back home I’ll not take everything for granted. Poverty over in South Africa is extremecompared to Belfast. If you live in a shack andyour looking to get a house you could be waiting 20-40 years which is ridiculous.People have no running water in the community or electricity. Also have to use the same toilet in the community. This will have a negative mind-set on people and what they inspire you in life. What learning will you take home with you? Not to be selfish and appreciate more things.I’ve seen kids who have nothing and areappreciative of the smallest things. They arewilling to share whatever it is with other people in comparison to back home where food and other material are taking for granted.
To give more time to my family and friends back home because I’ve learned how valuable giving someone on the other side of the world your time and love can be. This is something I would like to implement into my life people that mean the most to me. Also just to be myself around people instead of trying to be a different person around certain people to fit in. I feel that when I take my mask off I’m more confident within myself and at my happiest. Happiness is key to anything in life… “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.”