Arriving Home

We left Senegal at a rather hectic time. The month of Ramadan was just coming to an end and the festival Korite after the breaking of the fast was approaching. This meant that our host family travelled up to Dakar with us. Amadou, our host father, would be spending the festival with his family in Dakar and of course, we were there to get our flights. It was quite overwhelming having to say goodbye to the whole family and leave Senegal in the same day and I knew I was going to have a breakdown at some point, just wasn’t sure when it would come. When we got to the airport there was more drama as Lottie, another volunteer, had forgotten one of her suitcases and Mr T, our PT representative, came running across the airport to give it to her. Lottie then performed a mission impossible style slide under the baggage ropes, as they had closed the section, before she could board the plane. In the queues, Conor was impressing the locals and travellers with his Wolof and I found that I could not even look at anyone Senegalese without starting to cry, so SJ hugged me and said ‘don’t worry, you’re doing so well.’ Coming from Ziguinchor, rather than Joal, SJ and Lottie had to leave their home several days before us and had already gone through the horrible day of saying goodbye to their friends and family. On the way to the plane, I tried to use up the last of my credit, texting everyone to say that I was leaving. I got a phone call from a lycee student as I was walking up the steps onto the plane to say that she had passed her Baccalaureate exam, which was such good news after eight months of teachers’ striking! When we got to Heathrow airport (after having my first Starbucks during our changeover in Brussels) looking out of the windows, everything seemed very futuristic. My family were waiting at the airport and my mum was in tears, which set me off straight away. We drove back to Cardiff after that and it was weird to be in such a nice, big car, after all the sept-places smashed windscreen journeys we’d had. Getting to our house just made me think about how lucky we are, although it’s a cliché. One of the first things my dad noticed about me changing is when I stopped my brother throwing away a loaf of bread and made him cut the mould off instead. Things seemed to be back to normal pretty quickly, but I am having my ups and downs. When I went to the pub the other night, I got a phone call from one of my friends, a tailor from the hottest region in Senegal, I will never stop appreciating the time I had there and the people I was fortunate enough to share my year with.

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