I have now reached my final week in Cape Town and to be perfectly honest I feel my time has come to an end here and I am ready to move on to my next adventure. I have had the most incredible, life changing, experience that will stay with me forever. My last couple of days I have spent with the kids from the settlements. I’ve got to say TLC is the most rewarding work I have ever been a part of. It makes me so happy seeing the smiles and laughs from them, knowing a bit of love and kindness goes a long way. The respect you earn from some of the most dangerous gangs in Cape Town from working with Colleen is amazing. Without a TLC top and ‘aunty Colleen’ by our side we would have been shot or stabbed from day one of being on the streets and settlements.
Today as we drove through the streets we came across a group of street people living behind a petrol station. Probably some of the most friendliest, and warmest people I’ve met in South Africa, welcoming us with big hugs. As we drove away from them after handing them toiletries and fruit Colleen explained how they were the gang leaders of 26 (the gangs of South Africa). However the character they become at night is completely the opposite, as we experienced last night with Bruce, on street ministry. We came across the same gangs when it was dark; they were drunk, drugged and did not want us to invade on their night. With little to say to us it made the situation very awkward. Sadly we came across Rolsten. Rolsten was one of the students at TLC, who was bought in by Colleen at a young age and he turned his life around in order to come into TLC everyday, clean from drugs and help out with the volunteers. Unfortunately he didn’t turn up a couple of weeks ago, and he never has since. Last night we found him living on the streets, clearly ashamed of what he had become. But as Bruce said it is a choice he has made for himself, to lose that self-respect and leave behind something he’d built up is so sad.
Yesterday I had my last day with TLC, a potjie was made, Lilie, Abbie (the kids) and the students joined, and we finished with a final emotions game at the Village. Saying goodbye to all the kids was hard, and to Colleen and Kendal. The volunteering programme they provide is fantastic and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to experience the true living of the coloureds in the settlements, to provide education to children and teenagers, giving hope and a chance to change, handing food out to the homeless and settlements and working in a fantastic team of other volunteers. It is such a rewarding programme, and I feel I have gained invaluable experience.
I am now in my last five days before I leave for my trip around East Africa. The nerves are kicking in again like before I left home. Especially as I have no idea what to expect this time round, it was such a spontaneous booking. But I hope and have been told it will be incredible. Packing is a little easier, not having to choose which clothes to take makes the preparation a lot less stressful. Just a sleeping bag and camping essentials to purchase, like antimalarial, mosquito spray, suncream, a water skin, and HUNDREDS of wet wipes. For the next month I will be living out of a bus full of up to 30 people, along with all our luggage, food, camping equipment and tour guide. Setting up tent every night, cooking around a fire, limited shower facilities, no electricity is going to be something I have never done before but I am so looking forward to.
I still can’t believe my first trip is almost over. It has all gone so quickly and looking back over my time I have managed to fit in so much. Cape Town is a beautiful city, with something to do everyday; a busy buzzing day around the city looking through the markets, to a quiet chilled day on the windy beaches. However I have found that I much prefer living in the countryside back at home. The city is crazy, it never goes to sleep and I felt I couldn’t leave Cape Town due to difficult transport. Travelling so far has made me realise how much I appreciate my life back at home, and the UK. Even free health care is something I miss. Cracking my tooth the other day, leaving a hole behind has left me in trouble with the costs of it being fixed. I am hoping I can hold off the treatment for a while. We are so lucky to get these things free back in the UK, and I didn’t even realise it, I had to leave the country to appreciate it which angers me, but now I realise.
Throughout my time in Cape Town keeping in touch with my family has been very easy with access to internet and being able to Skype, however it’s very unlikely that I will have internet for the next month, as I will be living out of a sleeping bag in rural areas, perhaps in the mountains or on the beach! Not having any contact with my mum, whom I chat to daily, is going to be so weird. Who do I tell if I just rode an elephant or jumped off a waterfall, what if I need advice, or just her comforting words. But I guess I’ll be keeping myself busy. My blog will come to a halt for the time being, but I am so excited to update it once I’m at my next destination…Australia! But keep a watch on here for my mums posts.
I had to come back to edit this post after reading my mums most recent one…yet again I cried! We cry and then we laugh. Your words make me smile so much. Over our Whatsapp conversations I can hear us just chatting as if we were face to face. Wish I could just give her a hug. Will miss our snaps and chats too! x