#B2B2022: Mia Perry Blog

My Africa Journey so far has been indescribable, there are absolutely no words to describe the feelings this place and the people in it have given me. It is without a doubt the best place in the world. I’ve dreamed about this moment from when I joined R-city and to see it come true just seems so surreal. Preparing for this for a year and playing it out day by day has been incredible. Our team would have been close before but coming here has really evolved our friendships I feel like we are one big family, also getting to experience this all with the people closest to me is unbelievable. To be able to get the opportunity to go and help out and to see things that will benefit me is something I would have never been able to do if it wasn’t for R-city and the B2B programme.

A challenge for me would definitely be leaving Blanco, this was a challenge for me because I had built very good relationships with a few of the kids within the townships. I felt like i was leaving them to go back to the way they were living before I arrived. They were living in the most horrible conditions and I felt like I had kind of distracted them from their reality for a bit, realising that I was going home to a nice bed and a family that loves and supports me was heartbreaking for me because I knew they would be going back to absolutely nothing. I still wonder what they would be doing now that we are not there and I cant do anything but hope they are still smiling. Even though they have nothing they always have the biggest smiles on their faces which honestly shocked me because I thought to myself what could they be so happy about when they are living like this? but it took me a while to realise that all they care about is your attention, by giving them a hug or holding their hand. Giving them that tiny bit of your attention could brighten their entire day. This made me reflect on my own life and made me think about the things I would complain about daily or be ungrateful for when I shouldn’t because there are kids running about with no shoes on their feet and who have to fend for themselves in the streets.

During my time coming in and out of the townships I had built relationships with 5 kids. Raydene, Ashwayne, Zackquin, Nally and Ally. They all have their own little personalities and are so different. Seeing they all wanted my love and attention 24/7 made something click in my head and I knew I was doing something right. They would fight over who was sitting on my knee and who I was holding in my arms. The boys are crazy but always found a way to make me smile no matter what. Raydene was the first child I clicked with, she is 8 years old and she didn’t speak much English but we both understood each-other and felt that there was an instant connection. I felt responsible for her like she was my very own child it was just that type of bond I would of been very protective over her even with the boys, mine and her relationship will be forever special to me. I wouldn’t usually connect with kids back home in Belfast, I certainly wouldn’t be the type of person to go out of my way to build a relationship with a person 5-10 years younger than me but I pushed myself out here and I gravitated towards these kids because I felt like they just loved me for me. Back home I wouldn’t usually be myself around certain people but with the kids I just took my guard down as much as I could and started to let everyone in because I felt like they wouldn’t have judged me for being myself and I was right they didn’t, they actually embraced my personality they started doing things that I would do like faces I would make and saying things I would say. This made me feel so safe and to be honest it was a relief to feel like I didn’t have to put on an act anymore. These kids will forever be the reason that I can let my guard down without worrying about what others will think of me.

A highlight for me would be when we were saying goodbye to everyone before leaving The Valley. Ashwayne, one of the boys I grew close with started to cry while pulling my hand as a sign to not leave him, as much as this was a sad moment it showed me that as much as he and the others had made an impact on my life, I had done just the same to his. This overwhelmed me and I started to cry. Before coming to South Africa, I set a personal goal for myself to try to better someone’s day even by just making them smile and I had exceeded this goal , I knew then I had made a difference in someone’s life, knowing that all the hugs and laughs weren’t for nothing and that I had actually imprinted on someone’s life made me so emotional. I was genuinely proud of myself for something. Another highlight of mine would be giving each of them a new piece of clothing, the smile on each of their faces when I handed them a t-shirt or a pair of shorts was amazing. It was great to give them something I knew they would be overjoyed with.

As my B2B journey comes to an end, Saturday was used to do some last minute shopping. We had a bit of free time and went to the mall before heading to the airport to begin our travel home.

Being in Africa has taught me to be grateful for the things and people around me especially my family, at times I can take them for granted and after being here I’ve realised that I have really missed them and appreciate everything they do for me. The people have taught me that it really is the simple things that matter the most, not the materialistic things such as who has the newest phone or nicest clothes, it’s about how you treat people and giving as much love as you can because you can never know who needs it just that bit more.

I plan to take everything I’ve learnt back home with me and hope it moulds me into the best version of me I can possibly be. I hope one day I’ll be able to get out to South Africa again and see everyone who has helped me along this journey and my wee kiddies and see how much they have grown into the amazing people I know they will become.

“You can have nothing yet still have everything you need.”

I chose this quote because the people within the townships don’t have that much, but they still have the biggest hearts filled with love to give to everyone else and I think if you have love you have everything you need.

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