From 12,000 meters in the sky I write en-route from Brussels to Accra, Ghana. Last night we passed over Greenland and I saw the northern lights for the first time ever. I think staring at the shimmering green lights I had a moment of realization, it had finally sunk in that I was moving to Africa for a year. It wasn’t when I had the 7 vaccines, or the 6-week wait on my visa or even trying to fit my life into one backpack. This was really the point of no return, and my whole world was about to change.
After my last contract I decided that I wanted to do something a little different, I wanted a challenge, something to shake me up and something outside of my comfort zone. I am young, single, and able bodied and now with a degree I literally have all the privileges and opportunities in the world. I wanted to offer what I am and what I have to the rest of the world and I wanted to do it as a volunteer while I could still afford to. Using my experience in agriculture and business I will be working with women farmers in a rural area to improve their processing and distribution while increasing their individual and community food security.
For some reason I always had a quiet dream to live and work in Africa one day. I usually shrugged it aside as a childish pipe dream, never really thinking it would happen but secretly always wishing for it. I don’t know what it was that attracted me to Africa other than the total unknown. It never really occurred to me that my degree in environmental studies would take me where I had always wanted to go.
To tie everything in together was the motivation I gained from the recent women’s marches on Washington and around the world. This highlighted for me the need for us women to work with and for each other. It is only through improving women’s lives around the world that we will gain equality. After the march I attended in Ottawa there were presentations and speeches, one in particular by the managing director of Crossroads International (coincidentally or not the organization sending me to Ghana) stood out to me. She spoke about the work they were doing across the developing world to further women’s rights and empowering women and how many places still had a lot of work to do to rise to the level of our western ideals. Tears streaming down my face it was as if I was in the right place at the right time to hear her message, and I was going to do the work that was needed, the work that was driving the women’s rights movement.
|In Flight Ice Cream!|
Lunch is being served now, the plastic cutlery and disposability of air travel reminds me how many emissions I am producing by my journey, but the lifestyle I will be leading will be very different from the wasteful North Americans I think. Time to travel to a place where the 100-mile diet is less of a new age fad and more of a way of life. Where you shop at farmers markets for everything not just luxuries and where a slower pace of life will quiet my mind and allow me to take it all in.
"To travel is to live"- Hans Christian Anderson
If you would like to support my work or learn more see my funding page here: https://cci.akaraisin.com/pledge/Participant/Home.aspx?seid=2478&mid=9&pid=3045663