I want you to see the Africa I have seen.....
I remember the reactions of my close friends and family when I first told them that I was going to nurse in Zambia. While many supported my decision, others questioned my desire to travel to Africa. Many asked me why travel to Africa? How are you going to handle the sadness? Do you think you will be able to live there for 7 weeks?
These were all questions that I also had before leaving. Before the trip, my perception of the country was based upon the things I had read on the news and seen on TV. Picturing Africa as the classic Lion King savanna we all envision Africa to be, I also went to Zambia expecting to see great poverty, starving children, and many slums throughout the city. Thinking back, my only perception of Zambia was shaped by the media and this is a perception that was narrow. Although, I did see all these things I expected to see, I was also pleasantly surprised by my travels in Zambia.
During my travels, I was able to see a part of Africa that I believe the rest of the world does not get to get to see. In this final blog, I want you to begin to envision the Africa I have seen......
The Africa I have seen is beautiful! The land is breathtaking and there was not one day where I was not in complete awe of my surroundings. The sunsets are like nothing you could ever imagine. Every sunset was unique and picture worthy. We stayed on the flood planes, we visited the majestic Victoria falls , and we toured Botswana National Park. Now, travelling in Europe (a highly sought after tourist destination) I can say that it does not compare to the beauty of Zambia.
The Africa I have seen also has the most beautiful people. Despite the poverty that does exist here, the people of Zambia are full of joy, love, and acceptance. I will never forget my experience at the orphanage, realizing that the orphans are happier than some of the children I had seen back home in Canada. At first, when I saw children playing with their make shift kites (made from grocery bags and sticks) I felt sad and I wanted to go and buy them a proper kite to use. Then I realized, that these children were happy. Why did I think that the children were not having fun because they did not have a fancy kite to fly? These kinds of thoughts were a common occurrence for me and my peers, it is only natural. It can be easy for us to believe that our way of life is better and this is something I became aware of during this trip.
The Africa I have seen is safe and welcoming. The people of Zambia are welcoming and accepting. I know that part of this is due to the strong relationships and partnerships that UBCO has established within Mongu. During our travels, the Zambians always went out of their way to make us feel welcomed. It is an incredible feeling to be welcomed into a culture, and this is something I have never experienced before in my travels.
The Africa I have seen is also full of joy and happiness. Many people assume that with great poverty in a country like Zambia, sadness accompanies. However, the people of Zambia are full of joy and happiness! Although Zambia may not be as developed as countries like Canada, the people are able to make the best of their situation. Sadly, this is something, many of us living in Canada will never achieve in a lifetime.
I do not say all these things to discount the sadness, poverty, and the struggles that many of the Zambian people face. Rather, I want to bring attention to the beautiful things about Africa that are sometimes overlooked. Coming into this trip, I did not expect to enjoy travelling here. I really thought that I would endure this trip rather than enjoy the experience. Now, after being in Zambia, I feel a deep respect for the people, culture, and the land.
The Africa I have seen has taught me so much more about myself and nursing than I ever could have know. I am inspired to take my new nursing knowledge and perspectives that I have gained through my international experience back hope. I hope I gave back only an ounce of what Zambia gave to me.