I am often asked the question, why Africa? Sometimes I would like to respond by saying, why do you love your spouse? The truth is sometimes you don’t know why, you just do. It is they way it is. You feel a pull to a person or a place and the ‘Why’ really doesn’t matter, it just is.
I do however have a why. We hear so often the problems with Africa, and how ‘we’ can fix it. “There is so much poverty and corruption.” “AIDS is an epidemic worse in Africa then anywhere else.” “We need to help them.”
When I am in Africa, although I see poverty and I have toured areas were starvation is definitely mission critical, I see something very different. I see happiness, contentment and giving. I have always said, “There is nothing that can warm my heart more than an African smile.” The children will often run up to you hold your hand, touch you, and welcome you. They run to you not away. When you visit a community or school you are greeted with song and celebration. When you go to a person’s home, they welcome you to their palace, even if it is a one room tin hut. They are proud, and they are not trying to compete in a material world. They seem to be satisfied. Of course this is not everywhere and not every one, but this is my experience. I know Africa and every country in it is not perfect, but I also know that in North America nor are we.
I do think we can learn from Africa. I think we can learn to be more of community focused, more giving to our neighbour, smile more, and cry less. I do think that we can learn to be satisfied with what we have and not be so materialistic. I do feel that we should welcome people with pride with a smile on our face and love in our heart. I think we should be a country, community and continent of WE, and not ME.
We can teach Africa too. I am a very proud Canadian and I am blessed with what I have and what I have achieved because I am in a country of opportunity. But to some degree I am ready to leave that behind for now, to pursue something much more simple – genuine gratitude.
As I embark on this journey I know I will learn more about the African culture, about my husband, about me and about we. For the last few months while I wind down some of my Ignite Excellence training and business responsibilities and preparing for the business and philanthropic journey ahead, it has felt like I have little time to breath. My goal over the last few months was to set a foundation for opportunity with new initiatives. Mike and I have sold almost everything and I am very aware that we need to have something to come back to. Mike and I are in our mid 40’s and I do want to be smart about our financial future. So although we are going to Africa with charity in our hearts, we are also trying to be practical about our future.
This is the first time we have worked together, spent every waking hour together and travelled for over a month together. This blog will focus not on what we left behind but what we are walking into – you, me and we. This blog will encapsulate a true celebration of Africa, our relationship and my journey.