Katie Grace

My name is Katie Grace and I am a student at St John Bosco Community College Kildysart. I was lucky to be giving the opportunity to travel to Missionvale, South Africa with the charity Missionvale Ireland in January 2016. For me this was truly one of the best Experiences of my life and a week that I certainly will never forget. I really learned a lot from my time spent in Missionvale and I have made memories that will stay with me forever.

When we arrived in Missionvale we were greeted by Sister Ethel and some of the workers from the Missionvale Care Centre. My initial thoughts were how friendly and welcoming the people were towards us. Our work started on Monday morning and we had to get up at 6.15am and on the bus for 7.15am. On Monday, I went to the nutrition centre where I packed the weekly care packages which consisted of a half a bag of sugar, a tin of beans, a tin of fish, five tea bags and two bars of soap. I then went to Santa’s Workshop where I wrapped presents. It was upsetting to see how little each child receives as their Christmas present each year .I did Art classes with the children in the primary school for a few days which started on Tuesday. For me these were a few of the most enjoyable days that I spent there as I really enjoyed working with the children as they were all so talented and creative and some of them had a great sense of humour. I had a great love for them as they did for us. For me Wednesday was the toughest day by far, I visited the township alongside the medical team and a number of other volunteers. It was a mentally challenging day and it was devastating to see the conditions that people lived and coming from a first world it felt unbelievable to me that people were living in these so called houses made from any materials they could find, with no running water or basic facilities. One thing I noticed while visiting people’s homes was although they wouldn’t have much they were all very house proud and they kept their homes very tidy. It was a huge eye opener and it makes you see how you should appreciate the little things in life more.

I also got a chance to work in the clothing ware house and on Friday I distributed food to the people who had been queuing from early morning. They received a powdered soup and a half a loaf of bread and to them it was like gold dust.

Looking back at my time spent in Missionvale, it was an experience of a lifetime and I have many amazing memories that will stay with me forever like getting the chance to know and spending time with all of the other volunteers who are all wonderful people, spending time and playing with the children each day and seeing the smiles on their faces whilst doing art with them, listening to the amazing choir during mass and the highlight of my trip which was getting the chance to meet the most inspirational woman I now know, Sister Ethel Normoyle. She is a role model and an inspiration to everyone. To see what she was created and the sense of hope she has given to the people of Missionvale is inspirational. She is the heart and soul of The Missionvale Care Centre and without her hard work and determination it would not have been possible. To think that one woman’s vision created so much hope and life for the people of missionvale and to see what she has achieved throughout her life is truly inspirational. I feel privileged to have got to know Sister Ethel and to have spent time with her. I will continue to contribute to her amazing work in the future.

One thing Missionvale has thought me is that we don’t need much in life to make us happy.

I will definitely return to Missionvale in the near future.