The last few years have been difficult. I struggled through illnesses and the passing of a number of family members. Just when I felt it couldn’t get any worse, another personal tragedy struck—my sister passed away.
While I learned a lot about myself when dealing with these losses, I felt disconnected and isolated from the larger world. I wanted to experience something new and challenge myself with uncomfortable situations. I wanted to trust my own intuition, stand on my own two feet and develop a stronger awareness of the human spirit. I decided to travel to Africa; in fact, I felt as if I was being ‘called’ there.
Soon after arriving in Zanzibar, I was met by a project manager and we drove to Jambiani—it was more of a mad car chase than a leisurely sightseeing tour. I could feel culture shock welling up inside me. I was in a different world.
However, the people of Jambiani were very gracious and took us on a boat to swim with the dolphins in the Indian Ocean—it was indescribably amazing. I found the living conditions quite different from what I was used to and the manual labour was exhausting, but this is what I wanted—an experience that was demanding and challenging.
In my time there, I learned some Swahili, which allowed me to more fully experience the life of the community. I found the people of Jambiani to be the friendliest, most loving and giving people I have ever met. They had so little but gave so much. I always felt safe there.
When answering the ‘call’ of Africa, I didn’t know what to expect. I am home now, in Vancouver, and the impact of the trip is starting to settle over me. I feel so much more grateful for all that I have—just to have clean running water at my fingertips. During my trip, I didn’t feel any kind of ‘spiritual awakening’. But being home, I’m realizing now how much the trip did to strengthen my confidence and faith in my intuition. Also, I now have a deeper understanding of how two-thirds of the world live. I don’t know where I will go from here. What I do know, however, is that I am much better off in light of this experience. I would like to continue travelling and volunteering, to more fully open up my mind and the world.