COM0014 – Blog #6: I Left My Heart In Africa.

Katie Lingard

In the village.

When a person asks you what your greatest achievement is, what comes to mind? Lots of people would probably say their children or family and be absolutely correct, my daughter is my joy. But I choose to think of her as my greatest gift. Have you ever made a decision that altered your entire trajectory in life? One that when you look back on it and study it, you realize that because of that one choice, you recognise your life has been put on its current path? My choice was to travel and serve in Africa.

The year was 1999. I was in my last year of high school and had fast-tracked to graduate early with plans to take a gap year before pursuing post-secondary school. I happened to read of a need to billet some children from Africa for one night when their choir was visiting our city. Knowing my family to be very welcoming and having a penchant for taking in people in need, I took the notice home, handed it to my mom and said, “Call this number. Some kids from Africa need a place for the night,” and walked away. 

The day arrived and we attended the concert and I learned all about Uganda and the choir called Watoto. My heart leapt in my chest as I heard their sweet voices. I knew where I wanted to go for my gap year. 

Fast forward 8 months after working at a fast-food restaurant to raise the money needed, I was on a plane at 18 years old heading halfway around the world. I think back now and see how trusting my parents really were. This was before Social Media and smartphones and I was heading to a country where electricity was spotty at best. I am not sure I would be able to send my child off today with the same faith my parents had for me then!

Arriving in Uganda, I was immediately put at ease with their friendly greetings and felt very much like I was coming home to a family I did not know I was missing. I ended up joining another team from Canada and worked with them to construct two and a half homes for families of orphans. From there I moved to a remote village approximately one hour from the capital city and assisted in teaching in a Kindergarten class. My time in the village holds a very special place in my memories. The children were so precious. 

After extending my time in Africa twice I eventually ran out of money and had to return home. It was bittersweet. I missed my family, but those people and their culture had firmly taken root in my heart and transformed my life forever. While I did go on to pursue a career in hospitality, little did I know that I would actually end up working in education. My time working in that kindergarten classroom helped prepare me for my current career at a private elementary school. I had no idea when I saw that ad looking for families to billet children would lead to my working with them every day, I only saw some people in need and wanted to help out. Little did I know that they would help ME even more. 

How about you dear reader? Can you look back on your life and see how the path you are currently on was a result of a single choice you made? Do you have a time in your life that helped prepare you for where you are now but at the time had no idea that it would strongly influence your future? Share your thoughts! 

Until next time, dear friends!

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