I’ve fallen in love with Earth.
“People protect what they love.”Jacques-Yves Cousteau
The trip where I connected people to Earth
It sounds ridiculous now but it took two weeks in Africa for me to connect people with Earth. By this I mean that I had never stopped to think about how reliant we are on the planet and our ecology, not until a very special walk up a hill…
We walked up the red dirt path with the heat pouring down and a towering volcano watching over us. She was the mother of the soil that had nourished this small village in Rwanda for years.
The children ran alongside us and when we reached the top of the hill a secret garden revealed itself to us. Our guide beamed with pride as he stood in front of his fat cabbages.
I was with a group of volunteers of the Goboka Rwanda Trust and we were at one of many community projects we’d visited over the past two weeks. As I listened to this proud gardener explain how this piece of land (donated by the charity) provided his village with food and income the connection between people and earth seeped into me. This piece of land provided stability. It provided peace.
The trip changed my life. When I got back to England I looked at everything I consumed very differently. The stories behind the clothes I wore and the food I ate screamed out at me. With every purchase they got louder and louder. I continued going to work but moved back in with my parents to save up, quietly knowing that I needed a big change, but not knowing what.
A year later I was accepted as a team leader with Raleigh International and after a few months of training sessions I was on my way to Nepal in January 2018. We prepared in Kathmandu before starting our projects in rural villages across the country.
The trip where I connected to nature
Our team lived in the remote village of Archale in the foothills of the Himalayas for two months. We stayed with a local family, slept in their house, ate their food and occasionally danced with them by the fire.
Every day I woke up with the sun at 6am before going to dig with the community. Towering mountains watched over me. Every kind of consumerism had left my life. There was rarely electricity, no road and no shops. I’d even managed to drop my phone down the loo so didn’t have a camera between me and reality either.
It was just me, the people and the land. My office-moulded body ached from the physical labour but I was more spiritually and physically alive than I had ever been.
When I got back to England I was in culture shock for a long time. I’d been living out of a rucksack for three months and became familiar with the small amount of possessions I really needed. The choices in the supermarket felt overwhelming, they still do.
Finding balance and changing career
Living with nature had bought me a sense of peace and balance that I wanted to keep. I allowed myself time to think, read, learn and step outside of the digital career I’d had for ten years. I was completely lost but I knew that’s exactly where I needed to be.
Nine months later in January 2019, during a conversation about how lost I was, a term I’d never heard before landed on my lap – permaculture. It was the map I needed to navigate through everything I’d experienced and believed in.
Permaculture is about earth care, people care and fair share. I realised soon into studying this that taking care of our land is what I wanted to do, in a very practical way. I wanted to be outside, I wanted to understand nature, and I wanted to teach people about its magic so that we all want to protect and regenerate it.
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