To believe means doing crazy sh*t to look after the planet
I came across this old photo of me showing my “Believe” necklace around my neck. It has been several years since resigning from a great managerial position in Australia with an employment services organisation that allowed me the opportunity to help disadvantaged people. It was a huge step of risking my career, my security, my traditional life of work and play. For a belief that I could do better.
When I say better, I have always been blessed. I could write a novel of the crazy life I have led which has seen me dip through depression, suffer through suicide, panic through parenting and mess up through marriages. I survived all this and lived to breathe another day and was fortunate to get the help and support I needed to arrive at the present day and say that I am blessed.
Yes, it’s not always easy to live life. It’s damn hard, if we could really put it honestly. And it’s even worse knowing that when we feel life is so crap, there is someone else a lot worse off. We can go into how pain is relative and that your suffering is different to mine but at the end of the day, what’s important is that there is suffering everywhere in the world. So, what can I do to alleviate it?
This is where my ‘believe’ necklace comes in. I don’t even remember where I got it but even to this day, it still hangs around my neck and I look at it from time to time to remind myself that it was the belief in myself that gave me the ability to give up what I had in my beautiful homeland Australia to find a bit more purpose in a developing continent like Africa.
The term believe is defined as ‘to have faith’ or ‘to have confidence’. The term is a verb that can connect with an object or without one. But to believe is not such a simple concept. It takes a great deal of a combination of many things to believe in something or someone, especially yourself. If you do not have faith or confidence in yourself, how do you expect to believe that you could do anything of value?
I got up and I left to volunteer in Ghana. And then I realised that the volunteering I did was not contributing positively and I believed that I could help in a better way. So, I stayed. And I came home. And then I went back. And then I came home again. For four years I have been doing this and every time I learn so much about what I am doing and it has taken an incredible amount of belief to get this far.
I registered a not-for-profit organisation called Leela’s Love where I could create sustainable projects and empower others to empower themselves. And living in the community gives me the opportunity to understand the actual needs of the local people - https://travellingbutterfly.com.au/blogs/news/do-you-know-where-the-proceeds-of-your-purchases-from-travelling-butterfly-go-to.
It’s been really hard, exhausting and emotional. I’m isolated and alone. I am integrated in a culture far removed from the one I grew up in and I have to continually struggle with the notion that foreign aid, charity and volunteering can have detrimental effects on empowering others less fortunate. An issue of discussion best left for another blog, but I have had to believe that what I do matters.
So, now I am here, writing this blog and feeling proud of what I have achieved but also feeling that at present, I need a little bit of self-healing and self-love to make sure that I balance my emotions and mental health to keep my passion for my calling energised and alive and to believe that my path is a good one which has purpose and positive intent and is beneficial to the people that I work with.
Which brings me to my actual point. What I do in Africa has led to cementing my belief that a love for human beings, a love for animals and a love for the environment is all interlinked and what decisions I make creates an impact on the world around me. What am I hoping to achieve with my work in Ghana? Can I empower others with consideration for humans, animals and the planet in combination?
Absolutely! Living in a remote village means there are no other ways of disposing rubbish and waste except by burning it or dumping it as landfill. As we are not in close proximity to shops or urban areas, what we eat is from the farm so there are minimal processed foods and the packaging they come in. But the water we drink comes in plastic water pouches and this kind of waste is a huge problem.
The effects on the environment, like with any other kinds of plastic waste, is disastrous. https://travellingbutterfly.com.au/blogs/news/i-always-talk-about-water-sachets-but-what-are-they gives you a quick overview of what these water pouches look like and how they are affecting all of the African countries that these sachets are manufactured in.
So, I celebrate the birth of ‘Travelling Butterfly’. I found an organisation that recycles these water sachets to make upcycled products, such as what you see on the website - https://travellingbutterfly.com.au/. And with the purchases of these products by people in Australia, it enables me to continue my work in Ghana in creating sustainable projects in the village.
However, I have realised that it cannot stop there. My actions need to align with my beliefs in looking after the environment and helping others. When it comes to animals, I understand that what I eat, drink and put in and on my body also has to be a reflection of my belief that everything living matters and has the right to live with minimal suffering. In addition, the footprint on this earth is just as paramount.
It is constant effort and constant reminding myself that I am with a purpose and that purpose is to making a change in the world and believing that I can do so. The word believe is powerful and when someone has it, it can make a huge difference. Believing is hard but it is important. To believe in the good in yourself, in others, in humanity…now that is a beautiful thing!
When we believe, we can give with love, with humility and without expectations of being rewarded. Because to believe means that you have strength enough to do things that may be a little unusual, a little unorthodox, a little risky, a little crazy that can empower yourself and others around you. Oh, how the world would be a better place if we could just believe…