I know it’s been a while since I last wrote. Saying goodbye to my friends at Sedibeng felt like I was losing a part of myself. I felt like I was saying goodbye to family members that I will probably never see again. On the last day, each student wanted to say goodbye at the airport, so all 20 of us piled into 2 trucks and headed to the airport. I felt very loved and I know that I will be missed. As we said our goodbyes, I walked outside towards the plane. To my left I heard a big holler and I turned to see what the commotion was. The students were pressed against the fence trying to get my attention to wave a final goodbye. I just walked up the runway, sobbing and feeling elated. Even as I write this, over a week later, I am still crying. I didn’t realize how hard this would be. Five people from Sedibeng have already e-mailed me to see how my trip went and if I was okay. I didn’t think we could keep in touch because many of them don’t have computers at home. It makes me feel really good that we can still remain great friends.
The reason that I had to go back to Canada early was for my university graduation. Before graduating, I received notification that I was a recipient of the most prestigious award that a graduate can get. This award came with a monetary value of $1,000. I earned this award for academic excellence and giving back to the community. Because of that, it just felt right giving the money to the community. That is why before I left for Canada, I took the $1,000 monetary award and gave it to Sedibeng. Friends don’t just help each other out, but they help each other grow. When presenting the money to Sedibeng, I made sure to tell them that I wasn’t rich. I worked hard and believed in myself. I haven’t had an easy life, just like many of them. But believing in yourself will help you overcome any obstacle. I believe in Sedibeng and even though I could have used the money, I knew Sedibeng had a greater need for it. At my graduation when I was receiving this award, the feeling then didn’t come close to the joy that I felt seeing the reaction on their faces at Sedibeng. After sharing some things about my childhood, it made me feel so good when students came up and said that they never realized that white people have the same problems as them. They thought that they had a perfect life without any problems. They didn’t realize that we are all just the same.
I would feel very incomplete if I just left my work as it is for Sedibeng. I feel that I can still accomplish so much more, even though we are separated by an ocean. My next project is to go through the labour legislation of Botswana and make a document for the students that is easy to understand. In August, I will be attending the International AIDS seminar and will be report my findings to Sedibeng. Since everyone is either affected or infected by HIV/AIDS, my boss was stressing the importance of developing an awareness program for the students. I think that this will be a perfect opportunity to make sure I disseminate what I learned.
What started as a 6 week volunteer internship, turned into a lifelong friendship.