Last week, the Gogos Give Smiles Project 2019 ended and now I’m back to work in the clinic in Alexandria – Egypt writing this while I wait for my next patient to come in. Getting back to my routine was not easy, I feel different, I can’t really explain it but I think a part of me stayed behind in South Africa.
I was the first volunteer to land in Johannesburg airport, just a girl from Egypt sitting behind the Nelson Mandela statue at the arrivals terminal waiting for the rest of the team to arrive. Hours later a group of excited yet apprehensive strangers get on a bus wondering what the following 15 days hold.
The first few days were spent on training and briefing meetings, that somewhat prepared us for what’s next and gave us a chance to get comfortable around each other. But no amount of training would have prepared me for what I have experienced! I was amazed by how everyone, Gogos and young children at the schools welcomed us with open arms as if we’re old acquaintances that have know each other for years.
The Gogos were truly inspirational, perfectly content with what little they have and doing their best to provide for their families. They were so eager to learn how to better themselves and their families.
I may not remember every face I’ve seen, but the fact that I may have had an impact on their lives simply by teaching them about oral health and how to brush their teeth is the most satisfying feeling ever. But what those people don’t know is that they also changed me! I realized that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
2 weeks passed in a blur, the strangers became family and we were back behind the very same Nelson Mandela statue waiting for our flights to take us back home, full of memories that we will cherish forever.