Forged by thousands of years of human colonization, Africa is rich with global history. Over centuries ancient civilizations evolved into modern societies. Although the majority of Africa is plagued by the lack of Western commodities, such as materials, infrastructure and resources, it is abundant with relationships, culture, and human value. Where America and the western world has in many way drifted from the true essence of humanity, Africa still thrives. Fascinated with this phenomenon, it would have been an injustice to the privilege that brought me to this counter culture continent not to experience the flavor and personality of it’s inhabitants.
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Joel Parker- best friend, mentor and fellow plane hopper- and I sponsor a child through the global humanitarian organization, World Vision. World Vision has infiltrated ninety of the world most impoverished countries and is missioned at creating societal and economic sustainability through water purification, education, agricultural development, micro-loans and healthcare. With the experience, expertise and guidance of World Vision, the latter part of my excursion to Africa was spent removed from AfriSki and engulfed in the villages of Lesotho.
Oblivious to the fact that the World Vision 4X4 was actually a time machine, Joel Parker, Janssen Powers, Roger Flessing, head of World Vision public relations, and I hopped in and traveled through the portal of 1st world time and space into the world previously only experienced through lines of poorly written text in frayed schoolboy history books. After hours of trekking through unpaved roads and dazed due to over excitement and lack of sleep, we arrived at World Vision Lesotho’s ADP, area development program.
The next few days were spent witnessing the installations and accomplishments of World Vision programs and it’s outreached villages. Our first interactions with the local community was at a primary school where we drank water from safe mountain spring wells, gave northern hemisphere geographic lessons, and panted trying to score goals playing soccer with the kids at 8,000 feet. This experience led into the after school retreat to a CHH, child head of household. Living in the depravity of Africa’s HIV and AIDS victims, our hearts were torn. The aborigines not only took us in graciously, but invited us into their family. They did not see race, gender, nor class, they saw their distant relatives, and we the same.
Mentally, physically and spiritually exhausted, we crashed and awoke to a new day. The next days journey was to meet the child Joel and I sponsor. As we expected, we hit a road block, or so we thought, as we approached the village nooked in the shadows of towering plateaus. The village people, notified of our arrival previously, had staged a parade to welcome us into their village. As we were escorted by a variety of cattle and local animals, screams of hundreds of overjoyed children, and natures hurricane of dust, I had a revelation: The evolved world is so distracted that while we think we have it all, we have nothing. These people- celebrating in the joy of love, relationships, and family, living in community- have everything. What does it mean to be human? The answer I found was lost in frivolous consumerism and found in the heart of human beings. Henceforth, we stripped ourself of all inhibitions, judgements and the “white man comes to save the day” mentality; and for the entirety of the sunlit hours, with the natives who welcomed us with a royal welcome befit for a king, we celebrated life.
This experience is one that I will never forget. It will forever alter my life, not due to the depravity and poverty of what Africans are afflicted with, but to the authenticity and genuinity of life that they have excess of. What I expected to be a snowboard safari ended up a human being safari, and I just so happened to be the fictitious animal in a land before time.