So my 12 months in Boystown have come to an end. It has been an unbelievable year in every sense – although it was definitely tough at times looking back I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I had my sink or swim moment 4 days in, it was supper time and an argument kicked off meters away from where I was eating. An older boy was confronting a younger boy as he had stolen his blanket and then sold it for drug money. He slapped the younger boy, quick as a flash the younger boy pulled a knife from behind his back and stabbed the older boy through the eye. I can remember time slowing as the realisation of what had just happened sunk in. The scream he made didn’t seem human. You tell yourself that you will act but all you do is freeze. The younger boy sprinted out of the canteen before anyone could react. We rushed the older boy to hospital and luckily the angle of the knife avoided the brain but the doctors could not save his eye. He was 17. That night I questioned whether I was truly cut out for this – If I could handle it. The choice I made to stay will be the best decision I will ever make. I never told my mum because that early on I didn’t want her to worry. Yes, these boys were capable of things which I wasn’t prepared for, but these lads need role models crucially. Institutions like boystown benefit so much from volunteers, arguably more than anywhere else. What we did with these boys I will be forever proud of. We may not have been able to change all, but we made a huge positive impact, of that I am sure. The situation we have left boystown in is much better than when we arrived.
Now we are actually going home I have come to realise how much I will miss South Africa also. This country has a lot of issues, but doesn’t everywhere? It is a beautiful country with great people. There is nowhere more politically, culturally, historically, racially, culturally and geographically diverse. Despite the crime, corruption and disparity of wealth I truly believe South Africa will come good eventually with time. We have been lucky enough to make a really good friendship base out here and we will miss them massively. If any of you are reading this thank you for everything you have done for us this year. I would encourage anyone to come to SA, the weather is good, the people are great and the beer is cheap.
Its an almost indescribable feeling now that I am coming home because I am literally torn between ‘the excitement of going back and the sadness of leaving. I cant wait to see my family and mates, to eat my mums cooking, to sleep in my own bed. However I will miss the lifestyle we have, I really do love what we do out here. Mostly I will miss my boys, the connection we have with them is so close. They truly are like brothers to me. One thing I will struggle with is the fact that no matter what trouble they get into I am there to do my best to sort it – Now it’s out of my hands. I guess I just have to trust that I did all that I could to help them in life while I had the chance, that I imparted enough so they will change their ways, to return to the path they deviated from. Even though they learnt from me, it was a two way process, I learnt so much from these boys. I admire them so much to go through what they have, to have had the toughest start to life and still keep morals and conduct themselves respectably is frankly amazing. Nobody will ever be able to comprehend what they have been through but they still keep going. I’ll never forget the boys and I will do my upmost to stay in contact with them.
This chapter of my life has drawn to a close and now I have to move on, I remain confident that what I have taken from this year will stand me in good stead for the rest of my life. I want to thank everyone who helped me get out here and who supported me on the way.
P.S. Hamba Kahle- Go well