#B2B2019: Lauron Graham Blog

“Above all else, be true to yourself. Do what you want to do. Walk alone and be your own judge. It’ll be a bumpy road sometimes, but you’ll carry yourself a little taller at the end of each day and every journey” Before coming to South Africa it all felt like a dream, never in a million years did I think I would be sitting in Africa but it is the most surreal feeling. The special feeling of B2B hit me on our first day in the townships meeting the locals. You hear from other people about the poverty in South Africa, but until you see it with your own eyes you won’t understand how severe the conditions are. So far the trip has been amazing. One of my stand out moments was when the team were waiting for the children in the scheme to finish school and we could see them all running down the path. I saw a little girl called Dante, and as soon as I seen her I couldn’t stop looking at her smile and how happy she was seeing me and the rest of the B2B team. I spent the rest of my day with her on that field and she made me the happiest girl alive. Before coming to Africa I didn’t think I would make any relationships with the children but I proved myself wrong. Dante doesn’t speak English at all, so by being friendly and showing affection it made her smile. Another highlight for me would be my biggest challenge so far. On Monday we went to a primary school to take a group school assembly to entertain the children but due to the weather we were split into pairs to facilitate a 40 minute session to 20 kids. At first I was so nervous and thought how am I going to do anything with no preparation or resources. At the beginning the children were very quiet but by the end they all wanted to give me and my partner hugs. At the end of the session the children’s teacher gathered them together and got them to say a poem “My ears are for listening, my eyes are for my tears when I cry, my mouth is for smiling and we love this the most”. This made me realise that a smile costs nothing to make someone’s day, and it definitely made mine. How is the feeling amongst the team….. The team couldn’t be any more amazing, everyone has been getting on so well and taking each day as it comes. Coming to South Africa known as one of the “Shankill” girls, a big friend group in the B2B team hasn’t held me back in the slightest. I have been with different people than I normally would and made sure everyone included. The team are growing strength by strength and proving they deserved a place among the team when selected last February. Everyone has been quite emotional during debriefs but I feel proud knowing emotion isn’t showing weakness, but strength. I have shown the B2B team my real self and cannot wait to grow more as a person individually and within my team. How does SA differ from Belfast……. The people of South Africa are so much more appreciative than in Belfast. They don’t have much but what they do have they appreciate more than ever. In Belfast I feel everyone including myself take the little things for granted like time, love and affection. In South Africa all the children want to do is play with your hair or be comforted by a cuddle. I feel that when I go home I will appreciate time more than ever, by spending more time with friends and family instead of stuck to social media. it will help me gain a stronger relationship with others and I cannot wait to make these changes when back in Belfast. What learning will you take home with you……… When back home in Belfast I would like to be a more positive person and also a role model to my baby brother Tye who is 3 years old. I have no other siblings so I feel I need to show more appreciation to the one I do have. Africa has made me want to do well in school and get to university for my dream job as a children’s nurse. From working with children in the townships, schools and crèche’s I have realised how much of a caring person I am and just cannot wait to get home and give my mummy, granny and baby brother the biggest squeeze ever. Africa doesn’t feel real and I don’t think it will ever feel real as this is a once in a life time opportunity and anyone who wants to go or is already going to Africa this is my advice to you; jump in with 2 feet and don’t look back. “If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way” 

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