In September 2015, I joined Oak Eagles explorers, by mid August 2016, I had been to Africa and back, with explorers.
On the 27th of July, 40 of us explorers and adults left heathrow airport and sat on a plane for 10 hours before arriving at Johannesburg airport. We were all excited to be spending 3 weeks in such an interesting place.
First, we met the Swaziland scouts at the airport, we would be staying and living with them for almost 2 weeks. The Swazi scouts were older than UK scouts with ages ranging from 20 to mid 30’s. Even though this was quite a big age gap, we all got on really well and became good friends with all of them.
After waiting for our minibuses to arrive, we travelled to where we would be spending our first night in South Africa, at a scout centre called Gilwell. Everyone was really excited and we probably didn’t get enough sleep as we should have done to prepare us for the next 2 and a half weeks. The first few days of our trip consisted of a lot of travelling and a lot of sleeping but my favourite part of those days was going on safari in Kruger. We drove around the park all day saw animals including, Monkeys, Giraffes, Buffalo, Zebras, Elephants, Springbok, Antelope, Crocodiles, Hippos and Lions, which was amazing, especially as they were in the wild, rather than in captivity.
We then spent a week at a place called Gogo Khoza’s which means Grandma Khoza’s as we were staying in the garden on the Khoza family. While we were there, we spent time with the children that lived there and worked on the project which was, clearing the site of unwanted plants and weeds and putting in the foundations to be able to start building the community centre. It will be continued to be built while we are away and should be finished by 2018.
By the end of our time at the project, the foundations had been put in and the walls had been started. We also met up with the children from Malibeni High School and were able to watch them perform some traditional songs and dances which was really interesting and I really enjoyed seeing the differences in songs and dances between UK and Swaziland.
When we left Gogo Khoza’s, we travelled to a backpackers lodge where we stayed for one night. The next day we had to get up early as we were going white water rafting and abseiling. This was one of my favourite activities of the trip. I had done rafting before but it was slightly more exhilarating knowing that there were crocodiles in the same water as us. We also had the opportunity to swim in the water, it was freezing cold but really fun. The current was so strong that you had to be careful not to drift off too far without realising.
These are just some of the experiences I had on this trip but I will remember them all for a long time. Although parts of the trip were quite difficult, it was definitely worth it, and it was really interesting and eye opening to see how people less privileged than us live and how kind and welcoming they are to new people. I met some really nice, amazing people who I would hope to go back and visit. This is certainly something I would recommend to other people to get involved with.