Twenty-four hours and three connecting flights later, our team is finally home. Being immersed in such a beautiful and unique culture was truly a blessing. Thinking about all the wonderful individuals we had the pleasure of coming across these past two weeks, and how each one of them has impacted our lives, leaves me speechless. I feel that the best way to summarize our experience is through the following quote by Gandhi: “The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Working at the Blue Roof Wellness Center gave me an overwhelming sense of hope. Volunteering with children, staff members and members of the community who were affected by the virus was truly an eye-opening experience. Besides gaining a better understanding of the science behind this disease, we were able to see the strength and humility these individuals carry their lives with on a daily basis. One of the staff members we became exceedingly close to not only battled AIDS, but he battled skin cancer, homelessness and the isolation of his family due to the stigma of this disease; yet he still remains humble and hopeful.
Being able to see the community members gaze and appreciate our efforts was all the “thank you” we would ever need. Seeing the children run around playing with their new toys and writing on their new chalk boards was unbelievably rewarding. The tasks our group members happily assisted with around the clinic instilled a sense of hope, not only in the members of the Blue Roof Clinic, but in us as well. Hope that we can make a difference, hope for the individual’s effect by this disease, and hope that we will be back to visit our South African family very soon.