At this very moment in three weeks time I, along with nine other magnificent people, will be boarding a flight to Kampala in Uganda to volunteer with the charity Retrak.
Retrak reaches out to the children who have been forgotten by their communities, children who have no one else to turn to.
Their work and research provides a beginning-to-end approach for street children and the wider-community, that improves their lives. They support these amazing children as they reintegrate back into their families and communities…back to being children again.
In four weeks time, I will be sat in this very seat reflecting on our experiences. I’m already starting to prepare myself. How will I feel? What will I see? How will I cope with what I see? What can I actually do to help…I mean, really help….to make a difference to these children’s lives?
The honest answer at this stage is….I don’t know. I don’t know what to expect. I can only imagine. I don’t know if me being there, offering my support, listening, coaching, training, playing, bonding, sharing my professional skills and knowledge will make a difference. I can only hope it will. In some small way, at least.
Am I resilient enough to control my emotions when I get out there? I have no idea. It’s going to be a real challenge. Having read many of Retrak’s posts, watching their videos, speaking with the rest of the team on our group Facebook page, hearing the insight and experience of Retrak’s trustees who have been out there already, indicates that there will be some really tough things to process.
So many unanswered questions. So many unknowns.
I was a tough cookie. Once. The “ice-queen” in me has melted over the years and that leaves me vulnerable. I don’t like that. I am a lot more susceptible to emotion that I ever have been. Not sure I like that either, but I am learning to embrace and accept it. It’s a good thing. Apparently.
I’m very lucky that I have such an amazing #PLN. Their support has been invaluable. The very brilliant Phil Willcox is bloody awesome on the subject of emotion and he helps me to process all of this new stuff. Understand it. I am so grateful that he has been at the end of the phone.
Regular support and words of encouragement from so many fabulous people (outside of F&F), most of whom I met on Twitter, including Helen Amery, Amanda Arrowsmith, Jayne Harrison, Janet Webb, Gemma Dale, Niall Gavin, Andrew Jacobs, Michael Carty, Alistair Cockroft, Annette Hill and Michelle Parry-Slater have kept me going, even when I thought I was fighting a losing battle. Your words of advice, reading your books and blogs, your late night calls, just being there with your love and support have been immense. Thank you for making a difference to me.
To our team of awesomeness; Alice Cowell, Amy Littlefair, Helena Savage, Hils Wilcox, Ian Pettigrew, Kate Griffiths-Lambeth, Katrina Collier, Lisa Leighton and Sophie Tothill, not to mention the most brilliant Laura at Retrak, thank you for continued love and support. A life-long friendship has been forged and I would not wish to be doing this with anyone else.
I’m raising awareness and money which will enable Retrak to continue doing their awesome work around the globe. So far, lots of it (over 2300 visitors to my blogs and £2900 raised ). I am truly grateful to each and every person, and Company, who have supported me in this way. Every penny, every pound, really makes a difference.
Where does the money go? To help these children fulfil their potential your donation of £8 has provided a medical check-up, £25 has provided food for a week, and £105 has paid for a child’s school fees for a year.
It’s been tough, really tough, to raise money for charity. A lot harder than I thought. It has also cost me a lot more than I thought it would to do this. Each one of us pays our way throughout this trip; flights, accommodation, food, drink, vaccinations etc. This is all on top of committing to raise £2000 for Retrak. I tried to be clever. £2000 will be easy, I thought. I’ll go one step further and raise £4000; split the monies between two charities. Retrak and Team Margot.
A 10k race, a 15,000ft sky dive, a half marathon, a raffle. So far, I’m in for an extra £600 on top of my costs to go to Africa. That was my choice. I applied for this. I committed to raising not £2000 but £4000. If that means I pay in the rest myself, that is what I will do. These charities do so much for others. Giving back is the least I can do.