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#B2B2022: Orla Brown Blog

No words will be able to describe my Africa journey so far… This has been the most overwhelming and eye opening experience ever. Once you arrive and see the kids and families in the valley and scheme you loose control of your emotions fully, visiting their homes and seeing the conditions that they live in are unimaginable. Seeing this in person rather than videos and photos takes you right back. The houses are very small and up to 50 people sleep in them with no choice and they don’t know any better as they are used to these conditions and take it as normality. You think you are ready to face this experience when realistically you are not ready for the rush of emotions you will get when being in Africa first hand.

One thing that has stood out to me the most is that the people living here are the happiest people in the world, regardless of having barley a roof over their heads, no clothes or shoes and no water. The people here are always full of smiles and are the most welcoming and grateful people i have ever met. Everyone appreciates the small things such as a hug or a high five, it means the absolute world to them. The smiles myself and the team are receiving whilst being here are so pure and contagious which is so warming to the heart.

I have made a connection with a boy and his younger sister. Their names are (Rowa) and Chanie. Rowa is 7 and Chanie is 4. Rowas english is amazing however Chanie can speak very little as she is so young. One day in the Valley i was sitting with the kids and Chanie came to rest on my knee, out of everyone for some reason she choose to come to me. Chanie ended up falling asleep on me, which was a highlight to me as she felt safe and at peace to sleep on me. From then every time we drive into the townships i can see both their massive smiles greeting me as i get off the combi. The sight of the both of them running to me with excitement whilst holding their arms out for a hug means the world to me and no words could describe the emotions i feel when i see their faces. Recently around 2 weeks ago before i arrived their mother sadly passed away, their daddy is now taking care of them alone whilst working to try and earn money for his kids. When i heard the sad news i broke down as they are so happy and i would have never have thought that this happened to such happy babies. I feel as though i bring comfort to them whilst they are going through such a hard time, which makes me so happy but upset at the same time.

Today was day 8, we went and spent the day at a friends house within the mountains of South Africa, this was great for the group to take a bit of break and have some quality time together, we sun bathed, listened to some music, had a bbq and ended the night an amazing debrief alongside a camp fire. Today allowed me to sit back and reflect on my journey so far and how surreal being here really is. Whilst taking a bit of a break today, all we could talk about were the kids, this just showed to me that yes we have an impact on their lives however, they have such an impact on ours without knowing or even realising and that they have a special place safe in our hearts forever. Today i gathered that Africa has taught me that life is all about what you make of it regardless of what you have or how well off you think you are, at the end of the day the world can treat anybody terribly, but can’t ruin your memories or happiness that you create.

To add to an already overwhelming and amazing experience we had a debrief at the camp fire. Today we spoke about who is special to us wether that’s someone in Africa, in the group or at home. The circle was open and everyone gave it their all. We all jumped in with two feet tonight and didn’t hold back. I feel as though this is the best debrief of the journey, shortly after describing our person and why they are special to us, we had then been surprised with Voice Messages from our families back at home. This took me right back and made everyone in the team very emotional. As this was unexpected i got more emotional then usual, i felt warm inside and was overjoyed at the sound of the message my family had left for me. This made me feel so accomplished in what i am doing especially over in South Africa and unbelievably proud of myself and my people back at home, because without them i wouldn’t be sitting in South Africa today achieving my goals and having an experience of a life time.

A quote that i would use to describe my experience so far would be, “Never stop doing little things for others, sometimes those little things occupy the biggest part of their hearts”

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