Going on the South Africa was a unique experience and a look into a society full of rich history and culture like I had never experienced before. The entire trip was full moments of great joy, and also sadness. I witnessed myself and my peers push through very difficult moments which occasionally placed us in some discomfort. However, by the end of the trip, I was exhausted but filled with inspiration and hope.
The entire trip was such an incredible experience for me, however, a day I particularly found moving was when we worked with the Youth Group from the Methodist Church we had visited the day before. We started our day around eight with breakfast from the mamas and once finished, drove over to the church. We were greeted by the church Youth Group with many of their songs and prayers. One of the church leaders then split us into small groups so we were mixed in with the members of the church. After learning about each other through icebreaker activities, we split into three groups and travelled with the Youth Group to neighborhood homes. In those homes we encountered ailing members of the community who were experiencing difficulty providing for themselves. Our task was to provide encouragement through songs and prayers as well as providing food for those community members.
We met people who were sick and hungry. We saw yards filled with trash and homes that were dirty and falling apart. The conditions made me uncomfortable and when I stepped inside the Shanti our group went to, I wondered if I would be able to live in those conditions. The people who lived in these homes were very strong and resilient. However, they still needed the support of their community. The church readily provided that support with love and compassion. I was struck by how many church members wanted to help their community, and showed up. Their support made me think a lot about the power of community and how much more we can be doing to
support our local community back at home. I am grateful to have had this transformative experience and I will carry the lessons it taught me into future opportunities.