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Volunteering in South Africa – Learning From Amazing Kids

People continue to ask me about my experience at the Cape Town Orphan Care project and every single time I freeze up…I think I’m discovering the reason for this is because no matter how hard I try, I will never be able to explain how absolutely amazing it all was.

I’ll never be able to put into words how my heart will forever be left in South Africa, or how the images of those little coffee bean eyes staring at me and smiling will never leave my mind or how the people there take you in with completely open arms and just make you feel like you're home.

It was the weirdest feeling, being thousands and thousands miles away from where I’m from but feeling at home someplace else. Is that even normal? I’m not totally sure. What I am sure of, however, is this trip has changed me in just about every way I could be changed. I thought I had my whole life figured out before going on this trip. I thought I wanted to be a doctor and have the perfect family of four and live in the house with the white picket fence in Southern California! I left South Africa knowing none of that would go as planned. I now know someday I will live there, and my job will have almost nothing to do with money because I realize that’s not what it’s about anymore. I hope to be able to teach English in a primary school and to just love those kiddos up.

This trip changed me because those kids changed me. They have everything in life going against them, from disease and poverty to violence and crime, and yet, they are the happiest little kids. I remember getting off the bus every day and they would all run up to me, hug me, smile at me and laugh with me, and their huge pretty brown eyes just completely over took me.

Those kids taught me that its a choice to be happy every single day and that no matter how bad you think something is, you’re completely wrong. They taught me how to have fun playing patty cake and singing songs. They taught me how to dance and poke fun. And most importantly they taught me how to love something unconditionally and never look back; those kids taught me how to love. And for that, I am forever grateful.