This Facebook post seemed to resonate with a lot of people, so I decided to post it here as well.
I am having one of those feel like being honest reality check moments. This is for those of us that have or have had romanticized views on serving in the Peace Corps, or volunteering abroad in any capacity, especially in Africa. The reality is that this photo represents a huge accomplishment for me. That’s right, providing shade for a “potential” garden at the health center qualifies as a big win. I know I know, I am supposed be changing the world one beautiful African orphan at a time and having this magical white savior experience full of thanks and hugs. Okay, I know I don’t have to be that sarcastic, but the reality is that most of my days I am happy if I can accomplish something small like this. I am not saying this is nothing. What you see in this photo took a meeting with the matron at my health center, another one with people at the ministry of agriculture, arranging transportation to pick up supplies, a walk through the village to find an axe, another walk out into the bush to find poles, hand carrying those poles back to the health center, cutting a long narrow net in two and stitching it back together (with an extension cord) to make a wider net, and constructing this whole thing with only four hands and a broken shovel. All of that, again, just to open up the possibility of growing vegetables, that might somehow support adolescents with HIV eat healthy enough to stave off the health consequences of a life on treatment. I mean, given that it took all of that time and effort just to create some shade for a garden, realistically how much can I expect to accomplish here in the next year? I am not bitter about this, and I am over any delusions of grandeur I may have had coming into this whole thing. I guess, maybe what I am saying is this, if you respect a volunteer, don’t do so because they are “saving the world,” but because they don’t quit when they realize they aren’t.