Ten years ago this month I waved goodbye to my mum and boarded a plane to India. I was 22, alone and terrified. That trip was an eye-opening one for me. I spent a couple of months in India, working on a local magazine as part of a gap year placement, before heading to Sri Lanka and then Thailand to do some travelling.
Back then, as a young and ambitious 20-something, I harboured dreams of being a foreign correspondent. When I began my post-grad journalism course later that year I remember confidently telling people I wanted to report from places all around the world, bringing the stories of ordinary people in far-flung places into the living rooms of ordinary people in familiar places around the UK.
As my life progressed my dreams changed. I became a mum and suddenly the thought of working seven days a week away from home seemed less appealing. I still wanted to tell those stories and meet those people in far-flung places, but the logistics and the reality of life with a baby just didn’t fit. My perspective changed and, in many ways, my world got smaller.
Next month, almost ten years to the day that I boarded a plane to India, I’ll be boarding a plane to Sierra Leone in Africa. Like last time, I’ll be waving goodbye to my family, except this time there’s a husband and two little girls who I’ll be leaving behind.
To say I’m nervous is an under-statement. As a mum who’s not been apart from her youngest baby for more than a night, this is a big deal. It’s not the idea of the trip itself – although I know it’s probably going to be the most challenging thing I’ve ever done – it’s the fact I’m leaving my safe and familiar little sanctuary in Devon. I’ve never been this far away from the people I love before.
So why am I doing it?
Well, the answer is clear. It’s an incredible opportunity to work with a charity I’ve long admired and a chance to use this blog to tell some of those stories I once dreamed of sharing. I’ll be joining World Vision alongside fellow blogger Annie from Fable & Folk, to see the work being done in Sierra Leone since the Ebola crisis. Although the country’s been declared Ebola free, it’s still suffering from the effects of the disease which killed nearly 4,000 people in just 18 months. I’m going to be meeting some of the people putting the pieces of Sierra Leone back together, sharing their stories with you.
Why should you care?
Well, it’s like what my five year old said when I told her about the trip. “We’re all people aren’t we Mummy?”. We’re all humans. Mothers are mothers the world over. The life of a five year old in Sierra Leone is worth no less than the life of a five year old born right here in the UK. We’re all humans with the same love for our kids, capacity for joy, sadness, happiness and laughter. There is a world beyond our living rooms.
Tiny acts of kindness – a donation here, a tweet there – can come together to make a very real and huge difference. I hope you’ll come along with me for the ride and help me to share the stories of the people I meet when I’m there.
And just like that, suddenly the thought of being four and a half thousand miles away from my family doesn’t feel so scary after all.