All my memories of summer holidays contain family holidays, walks and good old British weather...rain. I'd travelled and lived in the length and breadth of the United Kingdom, from the huge lakes in Cumbria to the white cliffs in Dover, from Cornwall's breathtaking coastline to the Scottish highlands. This summer was different though. Ben was off with his friends to Barcelona and Lily was working in London, Mum and Dad had planned a romantic weekend in Paris but were planning on working through July and August. That left me. Three long months of summer spread out before me and I had filled them with nothing, diddly-squat, nilch, zero.
“You could get a job?” Dad offered, “Earn some money, it'll help you through university.” I sighed bit into my toast and leaned against the counter in my pyjamas, it was the last day of school and I had mixed feelings about it. “Live with your sister in London?” he offered, Lily poked her head into the kitchen,
“She's only living with me if she's willing to pay half the rent!”
“Yeah...no thanks,” I mumbled pulling up a stool to the island in the kitchen. Dad swigged his coffee and then poured it into a travel mug, he kissed me on the cheek and headed to the door.
“Have a great last day!” he enthused, I blew him a kiss and put my plate by the sink. I had finished my exams a week ago but as it was my last year in school I was planning on going to the final assembly, awards would be given out and I'd see my classmates for the last time. Having a Father who is geographically mobile meant I had never really stuck at one school for very long, I'd been at this school for one year and hadn't really made any close friends I wanted to spend my summer with. The assembly started at 2pm so I had a while, I fired up my laptop and checked my emails, a couple from old friends who lived miles away...maybe I could visit them? But as I clicked open the email I read about their plans for summer and my hopes were dashed, they had made plans...unlike me. I aimless browsed facebook until I got bored, then I opened google and stared at the screen. A pop-up flashed onto the screen, it was a picture of an African orphan with a fly buzzing by his eye. I swallowed as I stared at the eyes which bore through my screen, almost pleadingly. Below the picture was a tag lineWe need YOUR help – click here for information.I sighed and clicked. Before I knew it, I had been convinced – I was going to Cape Town, South Africa.
“You're going to South Africa? For ten weeks?!” Ben looked at me incredulously. I had been to the final school assembly, said my goodbyes to my friends and was now sat at the dinner table with my family. I looked back at the surprised faces of each one of my family members, Ben looked disbelieving, Mum looked worried, Dad looked confused and Lily looked surprised.
“Yeah, I figured I was going to be home all alone and why not? I'll help people and it's great to put on a CV!”
“Isn't South Africa like one of the safest African countries? Why not go to the Congo or something?”
“South Africa has only been free from apartheid and segregation for fifteen years,” I regurgitated my newly found knowledge. “There's huge unemployment, HIV, infant mortality and poverty.”
“It looks like you've done your research, but don't you think you should think it over first?” Dad asked with his mouth full, I grinned,
“I don't need to think, besides I already booked it!”
“You what?!” Mum burst, I smiled calmly, “How much did it cost?”
“I had enough in my savings...I'm broke now but it will be so worthwhile!”
“Oh jeez,” Lily breathed, “you're such an idiot.” I rolled my eyes at her and finished another mouthful,
“The closing date was today and anyway I'm eighteen, I can do what I like.”
“I'm still processing this information,” Mum muttered, she looked at me, “When is it?”
“We leave a week today,”
“I bet it's a scam,” Ben said, he helped himself to another spoon of mince and licked his fingers.
“It's not!” I assured him, I soon had the whole family crowded round the website.
“It looks genuine...” Dad mumbled, “I'm not happy about this Mollie,” he told me.
“I've booked it, it's too late, I'm going so just let me, okay?!” I demanded.
“You won't know anyone,” Mum told me,
“I'm used to going to places and making friends, I've had to do it every time we moved house! Look here, these are the profiles of the other kids going,” I pointed at the list, there were ten names – I wondered what they'd be like.