During the 2 months Hanneke and I knew Chris, we would keep up with his daily adventures through his blogs. Of course we were there most of the time so we knew what happened, but it was nice to read what he had to say about it. I always thought that he told the stories very well and Hanneke and I both were kinda sad that it had to come to an end after he left! So the first question we had to ask him on Skype was: How many blogs are still coming? It was only about 2 more days, so only 2 more blogs… We insisted that he wrote a reflective one as well. Then he came up with the greatest offer; Why wouldn’t we write one from our view? That was too hard to put down, I don’t know if it was a smart decision O’Sullivan, but we would love to do it!
I remember that, when we just met Chris, and I heard his story about taking the kids on a trip, I was very impressed. How great is it that somebody puts all this effort in raising money to give those kids a treat and bring them on a trip! Especially the way he thanked the donors was something I thought was creative and nice. I didn’t know the kids at all yet or what to expect, but when time went by we got to learn the kids and it was not hard to tell that they were crazy about Chris.
We got to see that they really enjoyed coming over, no matter what they would be doing, mainly just to hang out with their Chris, and of course Dan. How nice for those kids to have a safe place to hang out and just be together. We could tell that they really looked forward to the trip and Chris and Dan really put a lot of effort in to make it all work out.
After the trip we could tell that the kids just had the best time, we could tell by the pictures but especially by their excitement and stories. Those kids got to do stuff and got to see things they’ve never done nor seen. It was an opportunity of a lifetime. But would they still come over after the trip? Or did they get what they wanted and that was enough… That was the dumbest question we could be wondering. Those kids are very thankful and not just taking advantage of anybody. They seemed to come over more than ever and with more other friends then ever! They were really sad when Chris and Dan left on their trip to Dubai and Morocco but they at least knew they were coming back!
Luckily for us, the kids still came over whenever the guys were gone. This was our opportunity to do something nice back to them. That’s when we came up with decorating their whole room with nice sticky notes and drawings. This is when we could tell how much the kids appreciated those guys. Of course they kept on asking when they were coming back. We were all counting the days together!
I think it was in the last week that Chris was here how much I realized how strong this relationship was. Most of those kids don’t have an easy situation at home and are missing a dad in their life. We know how important it is for teenage boys to have a male role model and you see how much they miss it. Chris and Dan could just give them a little bit of this need. Chris, with his teacher skills, was pretty much a father to them. He loves those kids to death and we are sure it’s the other way around too.
That’s why it was heartbreaking to even think about him leaving. Hanneke and I talked about how much we would give to switch places and leave so the guys could stay, we enjoy the kids a lot and started bonding with them but they need men in their lives… men that care for them like Chris does. When it was time to say goodbye to Chris our heart really broke, his bond with them was just really special and strong.
We are really thankful towards Chris and Dan to get us involved with the kids. How could we not get involved? Those kids are awesome, so sweet and sooo much fun to be around! They stole our heart just like they did with Chris and Dan. I don’t know how we’re gonna manage it without the guys but we are sure we gonna continue working with those kids, until we have to leave in July. We would be more than happy to take them more places and of course provide the contact with the US!
Next to the work with the kids we got to know Chris pretty well. He was the one that helped us out the first days to get around and get to know South-Africa a little. It was a lot of fun having him here. We already miss his many stories, the game nights, beating him at Catan and doing fun stuff like surfing, eating out, Cubana’s, playing Frisbee or just hanging out together. And of course sharing the memories of Mzoli’s!
It is always nice to meet great people during traveling. I’m sure we will come to America one day!