Since I was a kid I've always loved learning. Call me a geek if you want, you won't lesson my enthusiasm. Many of my trips have been fuelled by a desire to learn about new cultures, customs, ways of life, philosophies...and about myself too. My recent trip to Ghana was motivated by all of this as well as a desire to make a difference.
I remember watching weekend cartoons as a kid, which often coincided with fundraising telethons for underprivileged children. At the time I didn't realize the impact the images of these orphaned children would have on me. That would become clear later.
I believe that these children helped me become aware of my good fortune, of the unfairness and randomness of life, and eventually my desire and ability to do something (small) to give back. Volunteering at an orphanage and meeting these children face to face seemed an obvious choice. You may ask what difference my two weeks there makes, and before leaving for Ghana I pondered the same.
But each passing day there confirmed that the most important thing is the desire to help, and not exclusively the length of time spent. My impact is part of a collective whole, led by each one of the many volunteers who spend time, showing their caring over the course of any given year in orphanages around the world. The value is in the consistent presence of volunteers...a continuum of help that is absolutely vital.
This was an important learning for me. With it I make peace with what I could do while I was there, and I have solace in knowing that though it was the first time, it will not be my last. The world has gotten that much bigger, and there are so many people out there to hug...