Sunday, December 1, 2013

Unpacking

It's December 1st. I've been home from Tanzania for a week now and I haven't posted a word about the trip. I could say it's because I was immediately plunged into catch up at work as I wrestled with my jet lag - and it wouldn't be a lie - but the truth is, I am still processing the experience. Memories are replaying in my head; my dreams take me back to the shining faces I spent my time with; and I am trying to convince myself the whole adventure wasn't a dream.

The trip exceeded my expectations in every way. It was emotional overload and stimulating on so many levels that I am still sifting through all that I saw and felt, to figure out where to start, how to help, and how to integrate this experience into my life.

And if that wasn't enough, I landed home smack dab in the middle of Christmas. This isn't a problem -- it's my most favourite time of the year. But it does highlight the contrasts and inequities between worlds. It's not fair; it's not just; it just is. Some of us are born into relatively easy lives while others are born into hardship and strife.

One of the cultural activities at my volunteer experience was a stop off at the Msamaria Center for Street Children. We came bearing sacks of rice, maize and beans and fresh vegetables for the children. As we sat on the benches learning more about the predicament of the many young souls that have been rescued, I couldn't help but notice my little friend Adam's shoes. I told him that we had the same shoes and he proudly responded, "TOMS!" Never mind that his shoe was far too large for him or that his toe poked through the end -- he was delighted that we were both wearing Toms.

And that is it - so far - in a nutshell. My head and heart are full to overflowing, and over the next while, as I unpack my experience, I will share with you - at the risk of snagging your heart as Africa has mine.

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