In this nomadic life of mine, sometimes I feel really privileged. A recent example of this amazing “mood” is the work I have done with a group of leaders from the UNECA (United Nations Economic Commission for Africa), which has taken me to Ethiopia twice this year. The feeling of been privileged came together with a strong gratitude towards the individuals in the group and towards the guardian angel who decided that I deserved to be a part of it.
This project has brought me many different gifts. On the one hand, it has given me the opportunity to begin to understand with some depth the character, the dynamics, the hopes and the fears of a continent which up until now was very much unknown to me. On the other hand, it has been an opportunity to get to know a group of very special people from different countries in the region. These individuals are already playing a key role and they will -without any doubt given their potential and their willingness to serve their countries- have a strong impact on the political, economic and social development of their continent. They also did something very powerful for me specifically, they helped me recover hope on the capacity of a strong group of motivated people to change the world one piece at a time and, even better, they did it with lightness, sense of humor, and, more important, kindness. With them I felt as part of something and I remembered the importance of being connected to a purpose which is bigger than me and to a group of kindred spirits which made me feel less lonely and less lost. Last but not least, this project has given me the opportunity to visit an incredibly beautiful country that is going through a very interesting period, where significant progresses are been made in many different areas and where many of the crucial challenges coming hand in hand with development in the region are painfully present.
One of the gentlemen who were part of the group, a Senior Advisor to UNECA coming from Cameroun, summarized the whole experience in a way that made a lot of sense to me. He shared with all of us that for him our experience together had been like a group initiation. Coming from a community in Africa, he reminded us of how the initiation rites for young adults take place. The passage from childhood to maturity never happens individually. In fact, young women and especially young men are initiated in groups, so that powerful bonds are formed that will make all of them stronger and prepare them to deal with the many challenges coming with adulthood. He pointed out that one of the worse ailments that our societies are facing is precisely that we have lost this certitude that important challenges should be faced collectively, and that the power of the group makes all of its members strong and provides a container for all of them to grow together. I believe that this is probably the more vivid feeling that I had in Ethiopia and that I still have when I can connect to the energy that we created together… that feeling of strength, of being a part of a “movement” that is worth fighting for and that can only be lived fully in good company.