WAGs, Kids and World Cup Dreams - Chantelle's story: Part 2
The trip has had a lasting effect on the WAGs and Chantelle Tagoe, fiancee of Aston Villa striker Emile Heskey, shares more of her thoughts on her incredible South African journey:
After staying in Cape Town, our next stop was Johannesburg and I was right in the front line. The easy ride I had in Baphumelele was well and truly over. ON MY OWN (still upset about that) I was asked to work and sleep in the Central Methodist Church. By day it was fine, but at night it is home to over 3000 refugees, mostly from Zimbabwe. They sleep anywhere - stairs, balconies, even banisters. There is not an inch of space. I was working with an amazing woman called Cleo who took me to her tiny room in the basement. It took ages to get down there and it was disturbing to see all sorts of people who were obviously desperate. I saw a little girl who was holding a cuddly toy and that just made me crack up. I cried and cried. I just thought it was so wrong that people live like this.
The church made me think about what people could do at home to help, and what a week's wages of a footballer could do to help. So I made up my mind there and then to try and raise money back in the UK. I've just finished my first fundraiser and we made just over £30, 000. There will definitely be more; I want to make it a yearly event!
(Photo: Chantelle Tagoe in Hillbrow, Johannesburg.)
In the church, I looked after a three year old boy called Moses whose Mum just disappeared one day. He now lives in the day care centre and is cared for by the workers who also sleep there. He was such a lovely little boy, but so lonely and lost. I got really attached to him; he reminded me of my gorgeous boys back home and it was awful saying goodbye. :o( But I have decided to sponsor him so he can be supported, fed and clothed until he is old enough to look after himself. I wish I could have brought him home.
After the church, I went to work as a house mother in a shelter called Twilight which looks after boys who used to sleep rough on the streets. The kids were aged from 8-18 and were great fun. They were really full of life and are building a future for themselves. They refuse to dwell on the bad things that have happened to them which we all really admired. I took one little boy to see his mother who abandoned him, he was dead excited but she didn't want to know. It was really sad to watch. I could never give up my children no matter what I was going through! It just showed to me how important shelters like Twilight are.
The last leg of the trip was to help a friend of Nelson Mandela called Patrick Chamusso. He runs an amazing place called Two Sisters in rural South Africa. It helps to feed over 200 orphans who have lost their parents to AIDS. Patrick also recruits foster Mums to look after the kids so they can stay in their own homes and remain a family. Ellie looked after a family whose shack was teeming with rats and she was covered in flea bites, but because she's really determined and serious about the work, she stuck it out - and even built a new roof for them.
(Photo: Ellie Darby in Hillbrow, Johannesburg.)
Two Sisters really showed me how terrible the AIDS epidemic is in South Africa. We really have no idea what it's like over there. Thousands are dying each week and there is not enough care or medicine to look after them. Meanwhile there are big rich farmers making millions just miles away. It makes me mad - but that is South Africa all over, black and white, rich or poor. No in between!
The two weeks I spent working in South Africa has changed me. I am a better mother, more charitable and much more careful what I spend my money on. I also think I have grown up a lot and got a new identity and am not so much in Emile's shadow. I love him to bits, but there is more to me than being a WAG. But I am happy to use the connections that his job gives us to raise awareness and money for the people we helped. I hope that when people watch the show they will see that there is more to WAGs than what you read about in the press. We do have a heart and we are not afraid to get our hands dirty and get stuck in too.
So tune in....
Chantelle Tagoe is engaged to Aston Villa striker Emile Heskey.
You can read the first part of her story on the BBC Three blog here.
WAGS, Kids and World Cup Dreams continues Sundays at 9pm.
Chantelle features in next week's episode of The WAGs' Stories on Monday at 8.30pm.