Zoe Cosens, Returning Volunteer, 2011 After spending a month with the children in August 2010, I spent the next 12 months working and saving to go back in 2011 – I missed that beautiful country and the children so much and was determined to return. And I did!  For 6 weeks this time! This summer has been the best summer of my life, even beating last year’s experience, which was a tough tough thing to do, but it did. I have fallen in love all over again. I didn’t think it was possible but I managed to love the children even more this year, coming back and building upon the relationships forged a year ago definitely brings you closer together. I was overwhelmed by how much they’d grown; how they’d changed so much but there was also a clear sense that things had stayed the same. There’s still so much more to be done for these children.  Seeing familiar faces at summer school was brilliant, it made me think that last year’s camp was a success if they’d come back again a year later! I really threw myself into teaching this year, hindsight is a wonderful thing and it was so much less daunting knowing what worked and didn’t work with our class (things I’d gained from last year’s experience).  Working one on one with the kids that will be in the orphanage when it’s completed makes it all so much more real.  Two boys came to me for help in the mornings before class because they couldn’t read. They have such a hunger to learn, its refreshing. Working with these children isn’t a walk in the park. It’s a big challenge, and you can never give up on them.  And no matter how difficult it becomes there’s always a moment in every day where the stress/homesickness/exhaustion/mosquito-bite-itch fog clears and everything you’ve been upset or frustrated about doesn’t matter any more because the children are so truly wonderful despite their awful harrowing starts to life. Despite it all, they still have that spark inside them. Seeing them laughing, playing, singing with excitement for Jollof at dinner, feeding bananas to monkeys at the sanctuary, sleeping contentedly on your lap on a bumpy tro-tro ride; it really fills you with hope.  The Raising Hope Foundation is doing what it’s name says it does, and I am honoured to be a part of that process. 
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