After explaining what each quote meant, I encouraged the kids to continue striving for greatness and to be constant good examples for their community. I know that they will. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, these kids are truly exceptional. Saying goodbye was so hard. We’ve all become so close, which of course is great, but the worst of it is the fact that I really can’t communicate with them like I wish I could. They have no access to internet or even money to mail a letter. Luckily there is one student who I guess can check his email about once a week, and I made him promise to keep me updated how everyone in the group is doing.

That night we had a little farewell dinner with the Sisters and of course the puppies. It was really fun. The Zulu sisters all sang and danced for us and gave us great little gifts.

Saying goodbye to the kids at the Center was really the worst part. Especially after our weekend in Hluhluwe, I had gotten so close to them. I made them each little bracelets and gave them to them as a goodbye present. They all loved them and felt really special which of course made me so happy. A couple of the kids started to cry which completely broke my heart. Even one of the toughest kids, who is a leader of the pack, even he broke down. It killed me. I just held him and tried to tell him how truly amazingly special he is.

Letting go of my quiet little constant companion was the hardest. She has been my little sweetheart since the beginning. I think I mentioned before, but the first day that I visited the center was chaos. I was surrounded by a crowd of kids who had all decided to be my new best friend. I didn’t realize it until a few minutes later, but someone had been holding my hand from the first moment I got there. I finally looked down and there she was, and everyday from then on she was always at my side. Gosh it seriously makes me so sad to even write about it. I just want to hug her and squeeze her and kiss her forever and ever. She tried climbing in the car with me before we drove away. Not in a fussy sad way, but in her adorable innocent way. Once all the kids went inside we began driving away. And then just like in a movie, my little girl came running around the corner to give me one last goodbye wave and a flash of her bright smile. Gosh she is just so beautiful inside and out. AH! What am I gonna do without her??

It’s hard to believe that I’m leaving because my work here just isn’t finished! I’m sure just about any volunteer feels that way. There is so much to do and it never stops. Coming out to Nkandla has really been a great experience. Or I really should say a great MANY experiences. This is really why I love traveling so so much. I LOVE learning about other cultures and ways of life. In South Africa I got the opportunity to experience and live in a truly rural, impoverished, and disease ridden community. I got to fall in love with 28 hurting but amazing and endlessly loving children. I lived in a convent with a dozen or so other Catholic Nuns, both German and Zulu and was able to create really great relationships with them. I mentored, worked with, and absolutely fell in love with 23 inspiring high school kids and did my best to give them guidance for their future. And finally, I was especially lucky and was able to see the healthcare side of it ALL.

We so often get caught up in what’s going on with our world that we don’t really think about what’s going on everywhere else or how different things can really be (whether it’s for the better or worse). Like I said before, there is so much that needs to be done and it is completely overwhelming. Sometimes it’s almost defeating. But I guess that’s when I gotta just remember my little quotes and try to make baby steps in hopes that it means something to someone somewhere along the way.