Three month reflections

After having (almost) completed the epic journey home from South Africa, I am sitting on the train reflecting about my life over the last 10 weeks.

I never thought this experience would change my life as much as it has. Although it was one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life with the constant challenges, highs and lows and lack of personal space it has changed me for the better. I have a much broader understand of cultural differences and how to adapt my behaviours in order to respect other people’s beliefs. I feel a lot more able to understand other people’s views and react appropriately to these. I feel like having embarked on this journey I have gained so much in terms of personal growth and most importantly meeting life long friends who I adore. These people I would now describe as my soulmates, people who understand me, people who I have shared so many memories with and people who I have made so many plans with for the future. It is crazy that in ten short weeks I have made best friends for life. These friendships are unlike anything I have ever experienced because they have stemmed from face to face communication without the distraction of phones. Ten weeks without much internet has resulted in so so many conversations, both silly and deep. Conversations all day every day meant that after ten weeks I know these people inside and out. This fact in itself has alerted me to the negative impact of phones on friendships and it is so easy to zone out without somebody is talking, meaning that in some conversations it goes in one ear and out the other. I am going to make a conscious effort to refrain from using my phone unless I am on my own to make sure that the art of conversation doesn’t die. I have become much more in touch with positivity and self awareness of my emotions. Because of the free time emotions were much more raw as there was nothing to distract you from them. Throughout the ten weeks I have had to find a way to acknowledge and accept these emotions meaning I dealt with them in a healthy way. Because everyone was very open about their emotions it meant all issues were solved through communicating with each other and expressing how we felt. This meant grudges were never held and everyone could move on after any issues were brought up. We have all seen each other at our best and our worst, at our happiest and our saddest. I do have to give a special shoutout to ‘Journal Club’ who were just such a fantastic source of happiness, positivity and constant hilarity. I will miss writing in my journal everyday with the gals.

Going home I have such mixed emotions, I am excited to see my family but sad to leave behind my friends. I am overwhelmed by the unbelievably fast pace of life here with no time to take in anything. I went for lunch at a vegan cafe near Kings Cross and even just choosing what I wanted to eat was too much, the choice of food was overwhelming and trying to choose what I wanted took a long long time. I am worried to see my friends because I wonder how I will feel about these friendships compared to these new ones I have just made. I know everything will be fine but I worry these friendships will seem superficial. I also think it is incredibly difficult to explain the whole experience to people who haven’t been through it because it is one of those things that is difficult to put into words. It will take me a while to transition back into life back home.

Without my team there is no way I would have had the experience that I had and I will be eternally grateful for everyone who contributed to this. I have never felt so accepted by people so quickly before and I love the values, morals and attitudes of every single member of the team. Luckily I have made so many plans to see everyone before I go away travelling and I am so excited about these. But I am still sad that I won’t be able to see them everyday to chat to, work with, cook with and laugh with. I only have to wait two weeks for the first meet up which is doable I suppose.


Sexual Health and GBV Event

I know it’s been over a month since I last blogged anything but because the days here tend to be the same each day, I felt like there was nothing new that I could say. However yesterday the team put on an event which was brilliant so I’m going to tell you all about it.

As part of this program you need to plan and deliver one big event in the community on a topic of your choosing. You have complete free range in this event and can do anything that you want. We chose sexual heath and gender based violence as we felt that we wanted to talk more about these issues as they were prevalent in the community.

We invited various stakeholders – department of health, local counsellors, love life, an NGO who do HIV testing, department of education and department of social development. They did speeches and the children from local primary and secondary schools did performances which was all very good. We had dancers, poets, debaters and singers. Simultaneously we had football and netball tournaments with the winners getting new kit for their school as well as free HIV testing. We also had a photo booth where the children wrote something about sexual health and GBV and then we took photos of them. We ran the event on the same week as International Women’s Day because we wanted girl and women empowerment at the event. We cooked lunch for 300 people which was delicious, rice and veg.

After the event we had a lot of spare veg left over so me and Aimee walked around the community giving out free vegetables to those who wanted them.

All in all great day all round.