“It’s time for Africa”
As a young girl growing up in Ardoyne youth club from the age of 7 it’s been an absolute dream to go to Africa. I was the luckiest person on earth to be picked for B2B with the most amazing people. My journey to date has been more different than I would have expected. I love traveling, especially when it’s with a brilliant squad of people, everyone was buzzing and couldn’t wait to experience this special place together. The first song played was “it’s time for Africa”, when we were traveling to Dublin and that’s when I knew that it was real.When we got off the plane and felt and smelt the heat, you get that vibe that you’re on holiday, but I didn’t, I knew that this was an experience of a lifetime.
Thinking about going into the townships I was buzzing and just couldn’t wait to get stuck in and jump in with 2 feet and make a difference! I couldn’t wait for our first day in Blanco and was up from the crack of dawn excited and getting butterfly’s in my stomach. This is the first time I ever seen the scheme and the valley, and it was the most unfair thing I ever have experienced, I just couldn’t get over how people can livelike this. I constantly questioned myself and tried to put myself in their shoes, but I just couldn’t picture it as I am so blessed to have a house and these people don’t even have as much as toilet. Back home I wouldn’t say my house is the biggest, but this experience has defiantly made me realise how lucky I am. When we were driving through the valley my mouth dropped instantly as it looks nothing like what people describe it to look like and it’s so heart-breaking to see it in person.
Seeing all the children so excited to see us was so heart-warming, it just shows how much B2B has an effect on them and an impact within the community. Their smiles are just so infectious and you just want to take them all back, away from what there really living in. We had our first debrief session and for me I adore times like this. You can share your day with your team and get all the weight of your shoulders, while listening to others also. Our second day in Blanco we went to the creche, for me it was hard to communicate with children as young as 9 months. Whilst doing activities with them the language barrier was an obstacle, when we had the music playing all the children were up dancing and smiling the whole time, it was brilliant. We visited the B2B soup kitchen where all of the children get some soup and for many that may be their first or only meal of the day. This is also another massive impact B2B have on Blanco. When the team went back to the chalets, we all decided to get into the swimming pool together with the music blasting and this will be a moment I will cherish forever as we were all on cloud 9 after an amazing day. Another moment would defiantly be up in Botanic gardens for another debrief session. The view was amazing, and this is when we found out was goes on behind the scenes in Blanco, which was shocking. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the days here in this special place will bring.
The feeling amongst the team is unreal. I couldn’t imagine myself out here with any other team. They are so important when out here to lean on. Everyone is constantly positive and always have a smile on their face. The group leaders would play a big part in my journey also as they are the core to what makes this time for us special, especially Shonagh Toner. I am close with Shonagh back home and to have her here with me on this roller-coaster of emotions is unbelievable, she is an amazing person and also a great youth worker. I’m privileged to spend my first time out here with her and can’t wait to make memories with a special person who has a huge impact in my life.
South Africa is so different from Belfast, the people are so grateful and are all so friendly and lovable. North Belfast isone of the most deprived areas in our country, as is Blanco in South Africa.
Comparing my community to Blanco just makes me realise that if I can make a difference out here, I can make a difference in my own community. I want to make my area a better place to live in for myself and the people to come after me.
I always wanted to be a youth leader but never had any real experience of working with children, this experience has put things into perspective for me and made me realise where my future is going and that’s what I want to be.
“Some things are more precious because they don’t last long”