Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 23 November 2014

From Belfast to Cape Town, peace line teens do us proud on mission of hope to help poor

Some of the group in South Africa
Some of the group in South Africa
Some of the group in South Africa
Sammy-Jo Mills with a local child

They crossed the peace lines to try and make a difference.

And now a group of teenagers from the Ardoyne and Shankill areas of Belfast have boosted those new friendships and experiences with the trip of a lifetime to help the poor in South Africa.

Twelve young people from the Ardoyne and Hammer Youth Clubs have just returned home from the 15-day 'Belfast to Blanco' trip during which they helped feed the sick and poor, and engaged with young prisoners.

Ardoyne Youth Club leader Thomas Turley said that their experience in Cape Town had helped them grow as people and changed their outlook on life.

"We have had an absolutely fantastic trip," he said, after the group arrived home yesterday.

"It has been amazing. The impact the young people have made on the lives of people in Golden Valley, the township we were working in with the support of Out Of Africa Missions, was massive.

"They helped with food runs for the sick and elderly, organised games and activities for the kids, and the boys went to the local juvenile prison.

"Seeing the kids grow and develop as people has been really fantastic.

"The trip has shown me just how inspiring they are.

"It has been a phenomenal experience for them."

The young people were selected for the Belfast to Blanco group through an interview process which took place during May last year.

Last month the Belfast Telegraph featured Patrick Waring (17) from the Ardoyne and Sammy-Jo Mills (15) from the Shankill, who were joining 10 other youngsters on the mission.

Yesterday we caught up with them to find out how they got on in South Africa.

Patrick: the people made it for me... we're like a family now

Patrick Waring (17), from the Ardoyne area of Belfast, is training to be a barber at the WorkForce Tech

The trip has changed me for the good. It has been brilliant. The key moment for me was when I was at the young people's jail.

To see how they are living and hear their stories really touched my heart.

They were telling me how they ended up in jail. There were kids of just 12 years of age in for murder.

It makes me think about what I want to do when I am older and how I am going to live my life. It made me think what is important and about how I take things for granted.

I am usually wanting everything but now I feel like taking things as they come.

If you were thinking of wanting to change your life, this trip is the best place for it.

I volunteer with my youth club but the trip has made me want to do more.

I want to volunteer with the homeless shelter.

I am going to take little steps in my life and build up to big ones.

I have to say the people on the trip really made it. I want to thank everyone.

We are like a family now.

Sammy-Jo: trip has opened my eyes to how lucky I am in life

Aspiring social worker Sammy-Jo Mills (15), from the Shankill, is a pupil at Belfast Model School for Girls

The trip was amazing. When I first heard about it I knew I wanted to give it a go. I was one of the lucky ones and got picked.

We did a food drop every day we were there. It was overwhelming to see someone so happy just to have some soup.

I was very emotional at the old people's home. It made me think of my own granny and granda back at home. I also met a boy called Ronaldo, who was 10, and he reminded me of my nephew. To see him struggle was hard.

The one really big thing I have got from this trip is independence. I am also a lot more confident.

It has opened my eyes to how lucky I am to live the life I live and I am so thankful to have everything that I have.

I missed my family when I was away.

I volunteer with my youth club and I also want to volunteer with the homeless shelter too.

I am going to try and bring a positive attitude back with me and think how I can help my community.

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