Which Path Will You Choose When Faced With Uncertainty?
Have you ever felt you’re forced down a path in life you never thought you would come across? Where you feel hesitant because you’re about to take the first step towards an uncertain future but there’s a small voice within telling you to continue?
Sometimes its the unknown path we choose in life that helps us discover the beautiful hidden stories within us waiting to be told.
One transformational experience is still fresh in my mind like it happened yesterday. I recall the soft texture of the red dirt as we were dancing barefoot in front of my home made of mud and grass topped with a thin tin roof. A place I called home for two unforgettable, hot summer months.
With the moon and our headlamps as our only light against the stark black sky pricked with tiny dots of light, we dance to the beat of a wooden stick banging against an empty yellow jerry can. With huge smiles on our faces we flung our arms and legs around unsynchronized in the humid air.
I felt alive.
My extraordinary adventure in East Africa started in 2008 after being one of the casualties of the Great Recession. Holding a newly earned MBA but no employers willing or able to hire, I turned unemployment into opportunity.
I first went to Uganda where I lived in a rural village for one summer. I helped build a fresh-water well and taught school children about safe water practices. The smiling faces, the simple living and the impromptu dances under the stars made it one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life.
It was in neighboring Rwanda where I discovered my passion for artisan entrepreneurship. It shaped my belief that the quickest way out of poverty is through job creation. As the director of a non-profit in charge of the business program, I taught women the basics of how to run a business.
Before my return home, the women gifted me with a gorgeously woven, palm leaf handbag. It was a souvenir to remember them by despite the incredible distance between us.
Every time I wore it I was immediately transported back to the unpaved, windy dirt roads framed with various shades of green banana trees. I reveled in the spirited memories of the sassy mamas in beautiful Rwanda who embraced me as one of their own.
I never wanted that feeling of belonging to leave me.
It inspired me to build a business with the artisans where their stunning designs can be worn by women worldwide.
We all have so many stories within ourselves.
A country with a future full of possibility but horrific past, the women have stories they rarely tell. The ones they freely share are those of family, growth and a desire to provide a better life for their children.
My story is one of self-discovery, transformation and the beauty of human connection.
Songa means the path forward in Swahili.
True personal freedom begins when the paths of your busy life intersects with others who inspire you to share the hidden stories you’ve safely shielded from even those closest to you.
After seven years of working with these remarkable women, I am so grateful we created a truly special, unbreakable bond. I haven’t looked back since.