2016, I decided, was going to be my year for giving back to world. In 2015, I did some amazing things, had some incredible adventures but they were all things that I wanted to do and were basically just for my own pleasure. Of course, this was absolutely amazing but I felt a little lacking afterwards. This year I made some changes, and goals based around helping others and making a difference.
So here I am in Malawi for two months supporting someone who now has become a very close friend. A year ago I didn’t even know Brendan Rendall. We met for a coffee last summer so he could pick my brains about running in Africa. After meeting a few times and learning more about this mans passion, I really wanted to help support his challenge in Malawi. Now, July 2016, I have spent pretty much every minute of every day with him for the past four weeks, and we are having an absolute blast.
This is my fifth trip to Africa and I've learned more from this trip than ever before. The difference with this trip is that I am spending more time in one place and getting to learn much more about the culture, the struggles and the charity we are helping. Coming to this beautiful continent teaches me so much, not only about Africa and its people but very importantly about myself. I guess having very few comforts and distractions means you start to look within yourself and think more about your strengths, weaknesses, goals and the impact you can have on the world.
Every time I go on an expedition, whether in a developed or developing country, I gain a greater appreciation for the simple things we take for granted in the western world. Like turning a tap to get fresh water, easy waste disposal, a warm bed for the night and our access to high standards of hygiene. These basic things are luxuries in many countries.
But when you come to Africa you look even deeper and appreciate the freedom that we have in our lives. Really, I am able to do pretty much what ever I like, as are many people brought up in the western world. If I save money I can travel. If I work hard I can buy items I like. If I educate myself I can get whichever job I choose. In Africa these are not options for most. There is no chance of saving money to go anywhere or buy anything, and education is a luxury for many. I recently spoke to man who saved his money for five years so he could buy a bicycle to get to work on.
Since arriving in Malawi, visiting FOMO projects and going to areas completely devastated by floods last year, I have been through a whole series of emotions and thoughts. I have felt guilty for leading a life so easy, I have felt sadness for the people here, I have felt helpless towards their struggles and I’ve felt inspired by their resilience and smiles. I have felt a million other emotions all mashed up together. I can’t help where I was born and the life I have had up to this point. All I can do is try to make a difference to others and to the world. And to appreciate all the great things I have.