When Jessika Poplawski joined our family as volunteer eight weeks ago, she said: ""I hope to do a bit of everything while I am here, to help where I can and to make a difference."
Today, it is with a heavy heart that she starts her journey home to Blackpool after the most incredible African adventure.
Jess, who celebrated her 20th birthday last month, has helped in school worked on a one-to-one basis with our special little boy, David, taught the kids (and teachers) new games, accompanied children on clinic visits and discovered some of the ways in which the local Child Protection Office and register office work.
Jess, who who be starting the third year of her degree in social work next term UCLan, Preston, experienced how local people live by staying the night with a family in their village - without electricity or plumbing.
She has also explored the area around at weekend, but she has been a dedicated volunteer spending every weekday, and some weekends, with our family.
And they have loved her ... and have their own personal reminders of her visit.
Jess took loads of beads with her, given by a friend, Kim Morris, who has a small jewellery business, Moon Jewellery, and had fun with the kids showing them how to make their own bracelets. They came up with some lovely designs.
Baby David will miss his friend too. Jess says: " He is now trying so hard to crawl - pulling himself along the floor, and being able to go quite far. He is also doing well in the baby walker, moving his legs and pushing off. He is really coming out of his shell, a little noisy monkey now. "
A trip to try to locate birth certificates for some of children was also an eye-opener: "We spoke with the child protection officer and he was telling us how hard it is to get relatives to engage in the process of getting the birth certificates, say if a child in their family is cared for at a children's home the relatives still can't even be bothered to work with the children's office in getting that child's birth certificates. It's sad that relatives can just detach themselves from the child and the child's situation like that, almost like a burden has been lifted."
Jess will have mixed feelings today as she makes her way back to the UK. Clearly she is looking forward to seeing her family and friends and the imminent arrival of her first nephew or niece, but at the same time she is so going to miss our children and all the family.
Thank you, Jessika, for being a lovely, hard-working, volunteer. You have certainly "made a difference."