A Travellerspoint blog


Poverty? Perceptions through the eyes of the "developed"

Where I just was in Tanzania is heaven compared to what I just walked through last night on my way home from an event in East Hastings (The downtown east side) in Vancouver, BC. It is truly a world unto its own. Pushed aside, ignored by many who purposefully choose to not frequent the area, shielding themselves form the realities that are right in our own backyards.

And then I think too about the perceptions of the west from those beautiful African lands I just had the pleasure of being on... how people I met there told me they think everyone in the west has money, is rich, and lives happy lives.

Oh how I wish I could shed the true light on all of that. We're not doing much better and in fact we might even be doing worse. Sure we have "things" (though a lot of us don't), but what else do we have? It is perhaps that it gets hidden better, placed in a box and out of the minds eye.....plus mental illness is already more hidden. And of course, the people heading to Africa are the ones who have the money and generally mental health in check, so the interactions on the ground in Africa are quite one-sided, one type of person.

It completely boggles my mind how people can flee far and wide, all congregating on one continent…Africa, for what seems like one purpose “to save the [insert perceived underprivileged group here]” - though I met many foreigners who were against this type of thing while there, the general story that seems to be spread is one of "saving". Granted people converge in other “developing” countries too, not just countries in Africa…. But the point is people flee their own space (which they arguably know best since they've grown up there, live it, and are part of the culture) to “help” other spaces that, quite frankly, likely don’t need the help, and are indeed hindered by such things as it creates dependency, and people participating in projects that ultimately don't help the community but there is money to access so "why not"? sort of mentality. It's not to say that each place doesn't have it's problems, but that those problems are generally better dealt with by locals who know the issues inside and out because they live in them, have been part of it for their whole lives and are connected to the cultural subtleties etc.

Is it that the pain is too great to witness in our own homes? That we don’t know how to fix it so we run somewhere else where the problems seem relatively easier to fix, or so we perceive in our biased western minds? Is it because we're concerned with the numbers of it all "I saved 5 families, or I helped 10 kids go to school..." Is it because we need those cold hard facts or else we feel like we're not doing anything?

It reminds me of the chapter entitled Morphogenesis, in Charles Eisenstein's newest book The More Beautiful World our Hearts Know is Possible - which is available for free online. :) Thanks Charles! Here's a quote that sums it up a bit...but I recommend reading the whole chapter, and, indeed, the whole book.

I wish I could say that the new story provides a map, but it does not. It can, however, remove the disorienting fog of habits and beliefs, leftovers of the old paradigms, that obscure our internal guidance system. The principles of interbeing do not, on their own, offer a formula for decision making. Even if you accept that “I and the world are one,” you will not be able to distinguish whether it will benefit all sentient beings more to stay home and reduce your carbon emissions, or to drive to the rally to protest fracking. To attempt such a calculation draws from the old story, which seeks to quantify everything, to add up the effects of any action, and to make choices accordingly. That way of making choices is useful only in certain, narrow circumstances—in particular, those in which cause and effect are more or less linear. It is appropriate for many engineering problems and financial decisions. It is the mindset of the actuary, weighing risks and payoffs. The new story is a much bigger change than to revalue the risks and seek new payoffs. It is not going to help you make choices from the calculating mind. But it will provide a logical framework within which our heart-based choices make a lot more sense.

Poverty is one thing, and it’s relative, and generally seems worse through our (the west) eyes, understandings, and perceptions because over here, money talks, and money is what we need to get anything done...community comes second if at all, if we have money, we're fine, so when we see people without money we immediately think the worst. What we fail to miss is that despite not having much in the way of cash flow, when people live in a community that supports them, when they are able to grow their own food, and when their mental health is in check - they are doing really good. In addition, things are not so heavily monetized in these countries, so not having a lot of money is not the deciding factor on whether or not one lives a good life. Now consider not only poverty (which we have plenty of in the west), but include with it the pervasive western isolation, deteriorating community and mental health issues that largely go unaddressed (which arguably result from such isolation and disconnect of community) coupled with social systems that do little to truly alleviate the root of the problem – it’s a whole new ball game. Is it that it's too painful? Too close to home to be able to do anything about it? Is it that it's "cool" to help Africa, and "what people do" but it's not yet on our minds to help those right in front of it? Someone please tell me what it is....as I'm rather perplexed by it all.

At the end of the day, given our deep interconnection, if I have a meaningful interaction with someone here, or in a different city, country, continent and we, together, generate good energy and positive feelings, this helps the whole world.... but I just wonder why we use so much time, energy, and money, to fly half way around the world to help people and make ourselves feel good when we could walk down the street and help our neighbors? Or heck, even say Hi to them! A "Hi" goes a long way...especially in today's disconnected (side of the) world.

And I don't mean to say this to point fingers at those who do go oversees to volunteer and do aid work (of course I went too, to work for an organization, but my goal was learning, not "helping" as I mentioned in my first post for trip #2) ...I'm merely trying to understand it, to raise the question and bring about dialogue as it's important to be aware of such things, and consider our reasons for doing what we do.

What I do know is that what I felt and experienced last night brought me a deep sense of sadness. For what is happening there isn’t unique. It’s the reflection of how are feeling inside, of what is going on in our world today, of the disconnect and separation; the old story rearing it’s broken face.

What do we do?

Posted by Jocelynn.R 15:16 Archived in Canada Tagged tanzania canada aid volunteer interconnection seperation dtes Comments (0)

Simultaneously getting stoked and freaked at the same time.

In this moment.

rain 9 °C

I know that this is something I want to do, there's no question, but that doesn't stop my idle mind from wondering a series of what if's and in general, questioning the overall intent of this trip, and the length too...one year?! Crazyness...

I've moved out of my place now, and I head to Calgary tomorrow. It's weird to see my place, void of all things that make it "me", and now inhabited by others...as I knock on the door of the place I've lived in for the past three years - it's certainly feeling provoking.

My little Boo is set-up at my friends place, and I am so thankful she is in such a loving, safe, caring, home. It is exactly the type of situation I would have hoped for, so for that I am ever so grateful. However, still breaks my heart to see that it's not longer her and me, partners in crime. I get it, and I've thought long and hard about it, and I know that in a year I will look back and we'll be cuddling in my bed, and all will be restored -our little games, our laughs - but for now, for now my heart hurts, but I think that's okay....I think that's normal.

I randomly ran into two friends who I hadn't yet seen that I wanted to before I headed off - one on the seawall whilst I was going for a run, the other whilst biking home from the bank, and I just happened to decide to go up a particular street, so that I could leave something at my other friends house, and the only reason I had that something, is because I had been at my favorite place (Templeton), and they told me my friend forgot their debit card, on a previous night of being there.... it's neat how each and every moment tends to seem so incredibly purposeful when looking back... and it's moments like that that make me feel I'm on the right path, and that the universe is on my side. . . maybe I'm simply trying to create a story out of nothing, but maybe not, too...both are equally as likely....one perhaps even more so.

I've been thinking a lot about leaving, and what that means. It evokes quite the array of emotions, one being gratitude. I've been trying to think about what it is about leaving that makes everything seem so incredibly amazing, and makes you question leaving it all in the first place. And, in scribbling down some thoughts in my head I came up with this.....

"That the moment you are going to leave your current life gets a flash of brilliance and maybe what I ought to take from that is not just that things are good when you’re about to leave, but that things ARE good, in general… and if we just stopped for a moment to appreciate (which is essentially what we do when we leave…because we recognize we will be without this person or that space..etc)… we would realize it was here all along, and it’s always amazing, at every moment, we revel in it."

So.... with that, I have of course been trying to revel in each moment left, but not because I'm leaving, just because it IS, I am, and we are. And, I will try to take this new found logic with me wherever I go, to not miss a beat, and to be present to each moment...because people say the moment is all we have, and I'm starting to understand what that truly means.

Posted by Jocelynn.R 18:13 Archived in Canada Tagged travel leaving universe synchronicity Comments (0)

Nimekuwa amekosa ninyi

When it just makes sense. When it just feels right.

sunny 7 °C

In general my goal is to transform accounting so that it's more holistic and representative of the interconnected system and Web of life we are all apart of. What that will look like evolves but for now, it looks like me learning more about ecological economics, growing and engaging in the new economy, and doing Permaculture and accounting. I'm going to help out as finance manager of this organisation in Tanzania that has an eco-village and has Permaculture deeply woven into their very fabric... 'Tis true, the possibilities are endless....almost too endless, but I trust everything is in flow.

The time is drawing close, and I will be heading off to Tanzania once again. Perhaps if one has only been following the blog post, then it may not be clear how deeply connected I felt to the lands, and the people over in Tanzania, such that I knew I would return. Though if you spoke to me since my return you won't be surprised by any of this! It's something that has been on my mind since I came back to Canada in August of 2010, a feeling inside that can't quite be expressed with words, nor extinguished with anything else - I knew I would return.

In Vancouver, over the past three and a half years I've made some amazing connections, met some phenomenal people, and finished what I started doing which was completing my Master in Accounting, and getting certified as a Chartered Accountant. Wow, am I ever stoked the UFE is behind me!! I was also fortunate enough to spend two summers in Saskatoon, this was where the Master happened, but where I also discovered my love of Permaculture; where it was first introduced to me, it along with many amazing, caring, genuine, and loving folks. I completed a Permaculture Design Certificate Course on Bowen Island, with Pacific Permaculture, taught by my good friend, Jesse Lemieux. That ended in June 2013, and then I qualified for my CA in August 2013. Now...to combine the two - Accounting and Permaculture. : )

I've now left my financially secure job to pursue what felt undeniably right inside my being. Because if not now, then when? Life is short and there is no reason we need to spend it "hating our Mondays", and not taking responsibility for our own happiness! To be clear, I deeply appreciate the experience I've had to date, getting my CA designation, the amazing mentors I've met along the way, and the experience to last a lifetime, which will surely help me in my future endeavors. I use the monday's as a general expression of how I've noticed people feel in jobs they are unsatisfied with, and it's become the "norm"...but it's not normal! Follow your heart!

The plane ride home, leaving Tanzania, feels like yesterday. The bracelets I have had on my right wrist since my return in 2010 remain, as a visual and tangible reminder of my time over there, of how meaningful it was to me; they also keep me feeling connected. I vividly remember looking out the window on that airplane ride back to Canada thinking "I will be back, and I will be in the airplane returning, remember this exact moment"....and that day is coming close. I officially leave March 11, 2014, at 1am, and those thoughts will surely cross my mind. So many times have I looked up at airplanes and thought "soon...soon I will be in that, and headed back". It's cool to watch that transform into reality.

So, I was debating if I would write as part of my other blog, or start a new blog, or just keep this one going and I opted to keep this one going because a ) it has the previous Africa trip, b) it has geared to travel - though this is more work than travel, but that's ok....and c) why not...although, it seems I can't see stats on this blog so maybe I will convert to blogspot.... TBD.

Why am I REALLY going?
A few people have told me "that's so great of you to go help", or, if they are wishing I'd stay they say "there are so many people here who need your help instead!"...so I feel I should clear up my reasons for going : )

My intention is not to help people. At first read that may seem preposterous or even cruel of me to say. I hope that one can understand where I am coming from when I say that. It is not that I don't want to help people, it's that, I recognize it is not my place to go over and "help".... it's the history of "help" and what that's done that fuels my thoughts around this, but it's also the fact that, I don't think we have it "right" over here in the Western World, and I am not intending on saving anyone, or what have you. I'm open to sharing information because it's good to share, if the moment is right...., but quite honestly, I believe I will be helped more than I could ever help. And I witnessed that the last time I was there.

The beauty of it all though, is that by me helping myself, I help others, too. This is made possible by virtue of all of us being deeply interconnected. As I said before to a friend, in the world of interbeing, the concept of "selfish" doesn't even exist - how can it?

My desire to go back to Tanzania is one that can't easily be put to words because it is a feeling, a calling. A deep deep sense of rightness, I can feel it inside, and it's beautiful - to be in perfect alignment with your inner purpose/calling/core - whatever you want to call it. It's what I would like to do, experience, see, and be - it has nothing to do with feeling this sense of "omg, I need to help people,". It comes from a place of certainty, and genuine interest in other ways of life - it does not come from a place of frantic or pre-formulated action.

Quitting my job, and leaving the consistency of every day life is scary to many, and perhaps even unthinkable, and what I've done may well be deemed crazy by even more but to me it just feels right. Despite being in a situation of complete unknown, I feel something inside me that says - this is absolutely exactly where I need to be, all possibilities exist; potential is in its purest form and life is going to emerge beautifully as it intends to. By me stepping out of control, resistance, and routine, I've allowed my self to exist in flow, and be open to the beautiful synchronicity that is, life.

So, this is why I am going, and I absolutely can't wait!

Posted by Jocelynn.R 13:37 Archived in Canada Tagged life journey accounting transformation permaculture Comments (1)

Deepak Chopra’s travelling tips on the Qatar Air website?

...this is going to be a mighty fine flight.

sunny 21 °C

In preparing for take-off, a mere 33.5 hours away, I decide to search the airline websites to make sure we will not be over the limit with our bags (given that we have two duffel bags filled with supplies for the kids!). Qatar Airways has, without a doubt, wooed me. I think I'm in love and I have only been on the site for two minutes. Here are just a few of the things I found:

-5-star dining, and I quote "you will be served a broad array of signature delicatessen such as foie gras, caviar, and smoked salmon" (I'm not even sure I understand what the first item is, and I'm somewhat afraid to find out; but count me in! As Neda and I always say - "if it's free, it's for me." I'm aware this statement counteracts the prestigious nature of the airline, but such is how I roll. I digress...)
-Complimentary fine wine and cuisine (don't mind if I do)
-"Fly Healthy, Fly Fit" - a guide from Deepak Chopra himself

...Yes, I know I will get along perfectly with this airline. This is already infinitely better than any North American airline I've been on.

Economy class looks prestig, in and of itself, so I decide to woo myself even more and check out business class, and dare venture into the lands of first class? Wow! I have never seen such a stunning room inside a metal cabin that is to be 35,000 feet in the air. You get your own area (cubical or cubby - if you will), and I'm pretty sure, judging by the photos, your own personal mini bar. And, I'm not talking about the mini bars you get in hotels that have mini-everythings for a not-so-miny-prices, I'm talking full on mini-BAR. Yes please!


I could get used to this!

Posted by Jocelynn.R 12:21 Archived in Canada Comments (1)

Three more sleeps!

23 °C

So, I guess I'm doing a blog but I still have not fully decided...part of me get's confused with blogs - I'm clearly not as advanced in the internet world as I would have thought. I definitely skipped the memo about blogging. I can't guarantee I will stick with this and not just do an email...maybe I'll do both... only time will tell. Anyhow, without further adieu... I invite you to my writings.

Today I woke up thinking how cool it will be when we board each connecting flight - one step closer to Africa. I imagine we will start to see small differences, in everything, the closer we get. It's hard to believe that now, after about six months of planning, and about a year of talking ...we are ACTUALLY heading to Africa!

Posted by Jocelynn.R 13:19 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

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