Summing up my Project Africa experience is difficult to put into words-even for me aka Miss Chatter Box Martin! Despite feeling prepared as I departed from Glasgow to start my journey, I could never have envisaged the experience that lay ahead.
There were many elements of our trip which will stay with me forever such as the beautiful landscapes and wild animals, the achievement of helping build a medical centre despite my vertically challenged stature coupled with my lack of building expertise and my eventful 3-hour journey on Mambo the Camel…to name a few. But above all, the standout for me has been the people I have been fortunate enough to meet and spend time with.
Since my return home, many friends and family have asked me for the highlight of my trip. In response, on every occasion, a beaming smile appears on my face as I reminisce about different characters that have helped make my experience unforgettable.
I must start with our jeep driver John, with his kind smile and cheeky personality, he and his team were there every step of our journey making sure we were well looked after. Other characters included John and Amanda who joined us faithfully every night for dinner and a wee dram, Francesca our nurse who kept us all ticking over, Claudio aka Indiana Jones who was never without his camera- even on the plane! Jules, Clive and even our faithful mascot Paddy the dog!
Then there were the beautiful children of Ol Maisor. From start to finish, their amazing smiles and laughter could brighten any moment of the day, even after a gruelling cement mix. My biggest concern at the beginning of the trip was that I would feel great sympathy for the lives lead by the little ones, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Their simple appreciation of the basic things in life is the greatest message that I have taken from my visit to Ol Maisor. They are not driven by possessions or greed, they love, laugh and learn with such passion, a true inspiration to all! My fondest memory will always be the welcome greeting we received every day from the children shouting ‘Jambo’ with such enthusiasm, during our walk to the school.
I have no doubt that the work of William Hill has changed the lives of not only the children but the teachers, families and community alike. From seeing the children drinking the clean water to my own personal tour from Perris, one of the school teachers, as she proudly invited me into her home to meet her family and see her house which was built by a previous William Hill team.
Finally, there were my fantastic team mates…Beverley, Nicola, Andy, Matt, Ollie, Olly Oz, Andy, Cyril, Meir and Paul- a greater group I could not have asked for. I feel Andy Lee summed up our group perfectly in his blog…’formally colleagues, now friends’. Every member of our group brought something different for me, there was never a point that I felt alone or without support, in my opinion, it felt like being surrounded by family. I am very proud to have been part of the October 2014 Project Africa team…never to be forgotten.