Stored away my personal things, done. Leased the house, done. I am these days practically homeless again. This “lightness” is essential when going away to work in a rather unstable environment. But having children has changed me, inside. I worry and have guilty feelings. But, I know and have read about women like me whose children turned out well. As if to reassure me, I chanced on cable TV recently a feature on Leticia Ramos Shahani, pioneering UN official among her other achievements. I learned that she became a single mother after having been widowed young. This happened at the height of her career as a diplomat. “I was so busy I’d tell my children ‘alright, you have five minutes to tell me what you need,” she said in the interview. I smiled. That sounded familiar. But, look her children grew up to become fine men and women. That’s what’s important which I’m always on guard for, even from a distance, and pray for. No, in truth, that’s the only thing I pray for. I hope that one day they will come to understand “mommy’s project”.
As to the career path I chose (or, should I say, it chose me after which I then came to love), there have been innumerable lessons I learned on the way. I came upon a better wording of these, in a post by Philen Naidu also a WordPress blogger. I’m sharing here her three insights that resound with me most:
The Truth Is That We Are – at Our Core – Most Interested About Our Own Happiness.
No matter how we try to word it so that it sounds good to us, as soon as we accept this; that our philanthropic endeavors are nothing more than an attempt to discover our own happiness … then we’re one step along the way to being authentic and true. And this is what is needed more than anything.
Through volunteering, the people you think you are serving, are actually serving you for you to discover your own joy and passion.Volunteering is just a weird vehicle that is used where we trick ourselves into believing that we’re actually the gift-givers, when we’re not. We are only co-participators in something bigger.
Only an Arrogant Fool Believes They Can Show Anyone a Better Way
Remember this wherever you go. The people, cultures, and communities you will meet, were all there before you arrived. They have successfully nurtured generations of children through conditions that you could likely not handle for longer than a few weeks, and then, only in the knowledge that it will end at some stage and you can return home. They will also be there after you leave. While you are taking a break, the people you meet are not. They are in their life and they take no breaks. When your trip or project ends, their life continues, unbroken in its stride. Remember, it is you who has gone to them, and it is not them who has come to you or even called you.
Listen First, Talk Second
Resist the chance of appearing as a coloniser who is trying to impose their ways on another society, by listening and observing first. Without judgment. Learn the way of the people and the land; Be a community member who understands and shares the desires of the people of the community you’re visiting, before offering your carefully considered opinions.