You know what, there is picture after picture after picture of me holding hands and squeezing tight these beautiful, beautiful children. And you know it does look picturesque and I do look at those pictures for hours and wonder at the beauty.
But what maybe you don't see is the stories behind them, and you know what, I was there, and I didn't really. I saw a tiny snapshot of these people's lives, yes it was a bigger snapshot than of what you can see, but still it was just a glimpse.
And let me tell you it was not all lovely, and smiley and happy-doo-dahs, it was HARD.
There are things that almost haunt me: my friends weeping their eyes out, as people screamed like I've never heard anyone scream before, because a woman had just died in front of us. Can you just being to understand that slightly? It hurt, and it was hard, and that day was a hard one to keep breathing all the way through.
And those children, the homes they come from, I just don't know where to begin.
I stood over the bed of a little girl who's life is meaningless to society, people have said she doesn't matter, and you know what, she still smiled at me.
It's hard to put into words.
But this was no holiday.
The dust and the smell and the noise and the laughter and the tears and the emotion and the heat and the brick after brick after brick and the cement splashing and the cockroaches and the children everywhere...it just goes around and around my head.
I may have had some fun, but the emotions I went through just were like nothing else.
The girl who has to share her Mami with 17 other children, because her own Mama had died, and she was rejected like so many others.
This was no holiday.
I could have gone to the Dominican Republic and sat on a beach for two weeks, I could have come home with an amazing tan, and a few souvenirs. But you know, I didn't, I went and I built new houses, I hugged those beautiful, joyful children as best as I know how, and I looked into these people's lives. And it was surreal. I can't get my head around it. I feel like it can't be on the same planet as me.
Here I am, 7 months ago to the day I got on that plane and I was changed forever.
Life would probably be easier if I hadn't, but I did.
And it was the best thing I have ever done, and the hardest thing, and the most life-changing, and it wasn't a holiday.
It was scary. And I feel sick right now at the thought of it all. I would absolutely completely recommend it, please, please go, but don't be fooled, it wasn't a holiday, and it wasn't a walk in the park.