#B2B2019: Sitara Loughins Blog

From the minute the group stepped into the Houben centre for our last session we were ready to go. Everyone suddenly became so open and confident in front of the group as well as being completely buzzing to be heading to the other end of the world the next morning. After all the hours of travelling the group arrived in Cape Town filled with excitement despite the lack of sleep. The morale among the group was amazing and we were all ready to tackle the upcoming days. When we woke up on our first day I was excited and scared for what the day would hold. We had a tour of both the scheme and the valley and to say I was shocked would be an understatement. I have watched all the videos from the previous years but you can never prepare yourself to see people living in them conditions and how horrible and small it actually is. I instantly felt guilty and angry that people were allowed to live like this. Despite this, all the people were so welcoming and loving. After this we went to the park for the children getting out of school, the second they saw us they immediately run down the road towards us. A lot of them had no shoes on or a dirty uniform but none of them cared, they loved the attention and couldn’t wait to play games with us. Every one of them appreciated the slightest bit of attention whether it was just a smile or a hug. These kids don’t experience love the way we do and I think the whole group felt on top of the world being able to make the childrens day. Yesterday we went to the crèche and the old peoples care home. Once again we were greeted with love and smiles. However this was when I realised that the horrible conditions that these people face don’t change over time or differ, from birth to death these people are made to live in horrible and small areas. Everyone in Blanco is so unbelievably happy despite not having the best and latest things, they appreciate every ounce of attention we have to offer. I think South Africa will always hold a massive place in all our hearts. “The only man I envy is the man who has not yet been to Africa… for he has so much to look forward too” How is the feeling amongst the team….. Before we left for Africa I didn’t think the group could get much closer than it already was. However every morning we wake up and it feels that little bit closer and our love grows a little bit more. Every one is going out of their way to keep every ones moods up and motivating them to do the best they can do. I think everyone in the team has took a big step out of their comfort zone and took of their masks. How does SA differ from Belfast….. I think south Africa differs in a large way as back home a lot of people are always out to better the next person by having all the latest stuff, the biggest house or the fanciest cars. Everyone is fantasised around the idea of being liked by everyone or having the largest group of friends. Over here the people don’t care what you’re wearing, how you look or how much people you have with you, they judge people on how they treat eachother and the love they have to offer. The people of South Africa are out to love and encourage each other in every way possible. What learning will you take home with you….. The most obvious thing I will take away with me is not to be greedy, selfish or ungrateful. I have seen how happy you can be with the bare minimum of things and I regret taking my phone, my house and even my family for granted. When I get home I’ll definitely be more appreciative of everything and everyone around me. For anyone who knows me will know my self-confidence and independence is a big issue that I face, but this trip has also taught me that no one cares how you look, what you say or what you do which has encouraged me to take my mask off in front of my group and properly be myself. I really hope when I return home this will stay with me so that I can continue developing myself. 

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