I am newly back from my recent trip to the bush of South Africa. What a journey! It is a long way to one of the most southern tips of the world. People ask me, “Why Africa?” It is a good question as there are needy and impoverished right down the street from me. America has a host of issues, particularly where I am now, the San Francisco Bay Area. Homelessness is at an all time high. Climate crisis and environmental issues are in the headlines. Election year is coming and we have our issues with immigration and children being separated from their parents at the border. This list is long.
So…. why, Africa?
I was a small child in the 70’s when I saw the horrific images of starving children living in drought-ridden regions of Africa. These images affected me greatly. It was the first time I remember such a plight, as I was only about 8 years old. The emotion welling up, on the inside of me, was visceral.
During that same time, I was grappling to understand what life must have been like for my mother, who was orphaned early in life. I knew it must have been awful to have your mother leave for the hospital when you are only 5 years old, to never return. Then, 2 years later, your father succumb to the same illness – cancer. The woman who raised my mother was an unhappy and violent sort, apparently, so her childhood was wrought with pain and suffering.
Years pass by and then another drought and famine explodes on the American television screen, again in Africa. The level of starvation and suffering in this region again, captivated my heart.
I made a vow inside my heart, between God and me.
I promised that one day, when I was an adult, I would help the children of Africa. What I know now through years of personal development and awareness is, when we make a vow as a child, it sticks with us. Sometimes these vows limit our life, as when we vow as a teen to never allow someone to break our hearts, or we vow “I’ll never do this, or do that”. Some vows we make as children inhibit our lives. This vow is not that.
The vow I made at 8 years of age, has blossomed in my heart and life over the decades. In 2005, our family traveled to South Africa on a business trip. Imagine my excitement as I prepared, packed and dreamed of how I would feel upon my arrival to the continent I longed to experience.
Although the drought-ravaged famine I saw images of as a child was not South Africa, I was captivated nonetheless. I learned that the HIV crisis had affected South Africa more than any other country on Earth. I visited the villages where HIV was rampant, creating a severe orphan situation. Even through the hardship of lack of water, food scarcity, elderly raising children or children raising children, disease and challenge, the children of South Africa won my heart. Their bright, smiling faces and openness to this woman connected me at the heart and impacted me greatly.
I made another vow.
I promised South Africa, God, the children and myself that when I came back to Africa, I would help this region.
I’ve been home now for 3 days. Still recovering from jet lag, I work toward making good on those vows and promises I made.
I love all children. American children, South American children, European children, Asian children and African children. Why I was led to feel so deeply as a child and to continue to grow into adulthood is something I cannot explain. I am pulled toward this place and its people. It is a calling I no longer question or fear or put off. It is my destiny and I embrace this with all that I am and all that I have.
I will be back soon South Africa to build and help. In the meantime, I spread joy and service to my own community through many organizations.
My question to you is: What are you called to do in this life? Who are you called to be? True fulfillment comes from aligning your life with the call.
Blessings to you on your journey of awakening!