This is my 7th day in Blanco and I have not settled with excitement and nerves. Each day I wake up and just think about the day ahead and just thrive towards my short term and also long term goals. As we arrived in South Africa we had a6 hour journey from Capetown to George. As we were passing by all the townships and the amazing views this quote came into my head and just made me reflect on my goals that I had I set in our long build up to South Africa. “Don’t wait until you’ve reached your goal to be proud of yourself. Be proud of every step you take towards reaching that goal. Focus on the possibilities for success, not on the potential on failure”. This quote stuck with me as I continued my journey to South Africa. Our first day in the township I had a mixture of emotions between happy, annoyed and also angry. I had these emotions as I walked through the township on our tour and seeing all the young people of Blanco shouting “B2B” and running into your arms looking us to show some affection. As we continued, one thing and shocked me and still does now a week in, was all the kids running around with no shoes. This has stuck to me from the first day I had steppedfoot into Blanco. This really angers me because there is only so much that you can do, us as B2B coming spending time with them really does have a massive impact on them. I am very shocked at the way I have been over here in debriefs and sessions, before coming to Africa I set back in session and just wasn’t my usually self. I know the skills and qualities I haveand I was not showing that I had them, but once I stepped foot into the township I knew that it was my journey and no one else’s. I took of my mask and jumped in with 2 feet and was just my normal self. We had a few days in the townships and in the Golden Valley Creche. I have enjoyed every moment of the time spent here and by showing that small affection and just spending some time with those individuals which you know that don’t get it at home has made me feel overwhelmed. I’m glad that the people of Blanco have impacted me personally and I’m also glad that I can say I have made an impact on them, even if it is little or big. This has been a really big eye opener not for just me, but the team around me. I am really enjoying everyday as it comes and I know that I am up for anything that has still to be thrown my way.
The feeling amongst the team is absolutely unreal, we have all been waiting on this opportunity so no one is holding back. Our team is filled with mixed emotions due to what we have all witnessed in townships. Our team was close before setting off on our journey so everyone in the team knows that we can provide support and have someone to lean on if any situations get difficult.
South Africa is different compared to Belfast in many ways. One difference that makes me angry is those little ones running around with no shoes on. It is so horrible to let that happen due to all the smashed glass, stones and bricks just lying everywhere. You would never even see or imagine this back home and it’s one thing that I personally would not get used to. Another issue is that the clothes they wear, we all know that their clothes are not going to be the best but I did not imagine the severity of the condition of the clothes. We met a kid called boy boy on our first day and he followed us on our tour around the valley. The clothes he was wearing was awful, he had no underwear on, holes in his trousers, and no top or shoes. I just wouldn’t know and can’t imagine any of this at home. On our first day we meet a kid called Jerry who’s around 1 and he’s been wearing the same clothes from day 1. This afternoon we tidied the valley and as we cleaned him with wipes and put a little Liverpool kit on him. We brought him home were his grand-parents were so grateful for just one little thing. Belfast is one of the most deprived areas in Northern Ireland and people notice this, but the difference here in Blanco is that there is a wall that divides between the rich and the poor. Here in Blanco the parents of the kids just let them run around, they don’t care where they are and they have no set times to be in for. Back home you very rarely see something like this occur, when I was their age I was only allowed in my street but these kids are running around the whole of Blanco. This is insane to see and is a major difference compared to Belfast.
Some of the learning I will take home will to be more appreciative because I just get everything handed to me and at times I think it’s not enough. This journey has put things into prepositive for me because there is kids over here who have completely nothing and I’ve witnessed this first-hand. My mummy and daddy work for absolutely everything and at least I can say I have my own room, I get food everyday, I have my own bathroom and over here township have to share 1 toilet. Most of the shacks have no running water which just makes me appreciate everything more. This journey will help me expand my relationships with my family at home because sometimes I don’t appreciate them enough and now I most defiantly will.