Well, it's back to Africa for me. This time, a different country and different purpose. I was in Ghana, West Africa in 2010 for a semester for undergrad at the University of Ghana. Currently I am pursuing a masters (graduate) social work degree in International and Community Development from the University of Calgary. My practicum is in South Africa, near Johannesburg. I will be interning through a Catholic organization called VIDES which have sites all over the world for volunteers from all over the world to volunteer in. I will be living with the Salesian Sisters there, and helping them carry out their development services for children and women.
First of all, you can watch Coldplay's Paradise video. Although it was shot at first in London, it then pans to South Africa. Coldplay went to both places to film this video. I have always liked this song, and while traveling to check out the University of Calgary 2 Christmases ago, the entire album was available to listen to on the airplane. Maybe that should have been my first “clue" of where I would end up.
Africa has always been my paradise. And it always will be. People tell me that there are children in the United States and Canada to help, and I don't need to go to Africa. Yes, that's true. But when your heart and your God tells you to go to Africa, you follow both of them. I'm living my dream.
Dreams are weird things, sometimes. Like what made me like Africa in the first place? I'm thinking it was the videos and photos of children, calling me there. (Ask any one of my friends about my "black babies" and they can tell you how much I love black children.) And actually being there, playing with the children was the best experience in my life. The people there are always happy, especially the children.
However, sometimes dreams force you to have to make sacrifices. Leaving family and friends is always hard. Trusting that everything will work out in the best way is difficult, but necessary when you are leaving everything behind.
The media makes Africa seem like nothing is there, and every child is starving. Not. True. This pains me that this is happening. In my studies, we have learned how the media does so, as well as how many efforts of people and NGO's trying to help really hurt communities instead of help them. I am so glad to have found and to have been accepted to study International Development as I have more knowledge now of how to help communities.
South Africa was not my first choice for my internship. I was hoping for some of the other sites with the Sisters, like Rwanda or Zambia. But, the only available space for me was South Africa. I have very little information on exactly what I will be doing, and any logistics of the whole thing, but I guess that just makes this more of an adventure!