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Back in Africa, Part 15 – “The Beginning of the End”

After two intense weeks, this is going to be an even more intense final week. All the hard work done so far will be pulled together into one coherent plan. I’ll be wrapping up the final two workshops on Monday and Tuesday, with Wednesday and Thursday allocated for completing and typing business plans at Jose’s Kimathi Information Center. I can already see the weariness setting in to the faces of the students, the facilitators, and of course, Nancy and me, but I would not have it any other way. Starting up a business and becoming an entrepreneur is hard work and I want everyone to look back on these three weeks and be proud of what they have achieved.

Still, this is going to be a bitter sweet final week. While on the one hand, we are looking forward to the end of the grind, on the other hand, Nancy and I feel we have collectively made 60+ friends. I have enjoyed seeing my students’ evolution from being shy and unsure of themselves, to being more confident and sure-footed. I see my role as being a small catalyst to help them unleash their potential. While this program has been an intense learning period, the real hard work has just begun. As my student John pointed out, success is within all of them – my hope is that we have given them the tools, knowledge, and guidance to achieve it.

Nancy asked me if this has been a transformational experience and I said no, that it is more of an evolutionary experience. I went through my transformational experience when I was in Sierra Leone 14 years ago. I have been a little surprised, though, at how comfortable it has felt being here. After finding my bearings in the first three days, it has felt like a second home. I wrote in Part 1 that I cannot explain “why Africa?” but I have come to see that it is because I admire their community-mindedness, friendliness, and culture. Of course, that is not to say that I do not see the complicated issues plaguing this country and continent but it is because of all these issues that I admire their spirit even more. I will go back to Canada with a better understanding of what community, gratitude, and simplicity really mean.

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