The following is a letter written by African Impact - St Lucia volunteer Shelley Crowe to her family after a very moving excursion, which saw volunteers and staff take four of their young patients to the beach. Having never been out of their small village, let alone in a car, the children were delighted and volunteers were very touched by the opportunity to let these four wonderful children just be kids for an afternoon! One of our St Lucia focual projects at the moment is working with a family of four kids (11,8,6 and 4 y.o.), who live with their Gogo (Grandma) in Dukuduku, a community about 15km from St Lucia and the coast, yet none of them have ever been there before. So the team took the four kids to the beach. Gogo was invited too, but she was busy at home sitting in her field making sure no monkeys came by to steal her corn!
Driving through just the edge of St Lucia - a relatively small town, all the kids could say was "moto, moto, moto", in awe of how many cars there were. When we made it to the beach, we paused to have a safety talk, but the kids were clearly already distracted and overwhelmed by everything they were seeing and about to experience. We walked up the hill towards the beach as a group, and as the kids got to the crest and could see across the stretch of sand to the ocean, they were awestruck. Silence, followed by wide eyed exclamations of general shock and wonder - and of just how much water there was.
They were initially very tentative at the waters edge, running away with squeals as every wave hit the shore. But with some coaxing they gradually accepted some water over their feet, and all but the youngest eventually ended up screaming with joy as the waves rushed around them. Nelly, the eldest, was throwing herself into the waves with the most incredible smile on her face. I can't even begin to describe just how it felt to see such happiness on the faces of the kids, over something that seems so simple. It has certainly changed my blasé view of the beach.
The only way we tempted them back out of the water was with a kite to fly on the beach. Another first. As we left the beach, the kids rinsed off at the outdoor showers - the first time they'd used running water. The trip home was very quiet.
I still can't wipe the smile off my face, I'm absolutely buzzing after that experience. It was an incredible afternoon to have been a part of, to have seen such sheer happiness in the kids, who were vomiting up worms only a few months ago. Moving to say the least.
The 10 Families Project is a project that works in partnership with our charity, The Happy Africa Foundation. Learn more about our charity by visiting their website and following the impact we're making together on their Facebook page.
St Lucia volunteer Shelley Crowe is a physiotherapist from Melbourne, Australia. She originally wanted to volunteer in order to gain insight into another culture, lifestyle and to make a difference even if it was in some small way. Shelley is a hard-working and enthusiastic volunteer who loves a good meme, and looks forward to her future travels - wherever they may lead!