When I thought of Africa prior to visiting, I thought about beautiful exotic animals, untouched Rain Forest and beautiful warm weather. Last month I was given the opportunity of a lifetime with an organization called "Right To Play." For 6 days I got to see the back country of Monrovia, Liberia. I visited communities and met the people who called this home. I experienced their food, education system and living situations. There are no words to describe the environments I experienced first hand.
Our first day we visited a community called "West Point," the third most dangerous area in the world per capita. As I walked along a small path winding inbetween houses, (these weren't the type of structures I would have called houses) I smelled and saw sights I didn't previously know existed in this world. The air was stale with the smell of rotting garbage and feces, There were small children sitting in the dirt, unwatched with disease. What broke my heart was the people were so welcoming, so enthusiastic to meet me; to shake my hand and introduce me to their kids. These individuals that had nothing (by North American standards), wanted nothing more than to show us what they had brought into this world. They were some of the most incredible people I have ever met. After walking along this path for about seven minutes we finally arrived at the "school." Picture an old barn that you would see in a Saskatchewan field that looked as if it should be condemned. We proceeded to walk through the doors where we were greeted by the most beautiful welcoming group of school students ever. We begin to introduce ourselves when a 7 year old girl stands up from her desk with her hand in the air. I noticed this little girl and said "yes?" she then replied "I just wanted to thank you." and I replied in shock, "for what?" The next words that this seven year old said to me are words I will never forget in my life "I just want to thank you and Right To Play for giving me the opportunity to further my education and some day change the world so my brothers and sisters can grow up in a safe community" She was seven! I instantly began to cry.
We then got to sit in with a community outreach group. This is essentially a group of volunteers from the community who get together and discuss problems within their town and how they are going to come together to solve them. The main problems that were consistent in every community we visited were the following:
1) clean drinking water
2) preventing rape within households and on the streets.
3) mosquito nets for pregnant women to prevent malaria
4) teachers asking for sexual favors from students in order for them to pass the class
5) body hygiene to prevent disease
I sat there and listened in disbelief; we as Canadians debate where we're going for lunch or complain when we didn't get what we want for Christmas. These people are sitting there fighting for their life day in and day out, wondering if they are even going to be able to eat that day, or hoping when they go home they won't get beat by their husbands. I can honestly say that after event just six days of being in Africa, it changed my outlook on life.
These people that have nothing and fight for their lives daily are the most inspirational people I have ever met.
It was extraordinary for me to see volunteers together hoping to change the way of life in their community by trying to educate the youth. Their hope in doing so is to create a more healthy and safe future.
I am so thankful for this opportunity and want to share my adventure with each of you. I know words can not show what I have experienced so I thought pictures might help bring life to the story. Here is a short video of my trip in Africa.
Hope you enjoy