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Susan Molloys year in Eastern Cape, South Africa

Sitting here, as I watch the children write their final Maths exam of the year, still counting using their fingers and toes, a thought that has crossed my mind a hundred times comes back once more. I don't want to leave: I'm not ready. In this moment, there's nowhere I'd rather be. Having faced every emotion here, having faced the trials and successes that I have, I'm aware that this is the place where I have found life. Happiness has truly entered my heart, and part of it will stay, behind me when I leave, as I head for my other home.

Thembelihle Home in Umtata is for children who need protection from previous family members or care givers. Most children have been Susan Molloy and friendabused, and the volunteers are essential when it comes to re-building their lives. Due to the home being a place of safety, children cannot go to local schools. The home has a small classroom in the back yard where schooling takes place five days a week. My Project partner and I were the only teachers (for up to 30 children of ages between 5-18) and wrote and set up the lesson plans, curriculum and exams. Without Project Trust volunteers, the home school would not run, therefore the children would be without education. Thembelihle could not afford to employ full time teachers, let alone teachers who would agree to live on-site 24/7 and be social care workers, friends and listeners!

The Eastern Cape is a place of beauty and great simplicity, although the culture is one that, at times, is not so stunning, nor so simple. The traditional dancing is wonderful, with the tribal drums, Xhosa skirts and songs as old as time. The friendliness and openness is there when you find it, and once unlocked, you'll have discovered friends you'll keep forSusan Molloy and local children life. Traditions from hundreds of years ago still stand strong, and will be practiced for decades to come. Families are huge, and love is anything but distant, yet behind the delightful faces and charming ways, there are secrets of the culture that are yet to fade away. The Eastern Cape has problems which are still here, and they are reason for my work here. It's undeniable, parts of this country are corrupt, flawed and, to an extent, damaged. There are things that can never be altered, yet many things that can be - but as with everything, the main factors needed are time, trust and belief that things can change.

Having learned so much from the country, and of course the children, I know when I return home, life will seem all too perfect. The little flaws of my life here have just added to it; I now actually enjoy knowing there's no light in the kitchen, and the fact that I hand-wash everything. With the knowledge that I'm beginning to see things as they are for the very last time, I'm noticing aspects that I'd grown used to and learned to ignore, the issues that I remember identifying when I first arrived. Many of the thoughts are the same, although of course this time I see them from a whole new angle, with new experience and understanding and with a whole new approach to life.

Susan Molloy's placement was arranged with Project Trust.  Umtata lies between Port Elizabeth and Durban in Eastern Province, South Africa.