I was born in 1980 on the countryside of Hungary, which definitely has determined my whole life. Since I was born I was always close to nature and animals. Our family house has its own backyard garden, which makes my family to be almost self-sufficient. I always loved the country lifestyle although I moved to the capital and lived an urban life because of my studies and work.
In the last 10 years I was working in the film business and living a very stressful life. I wanted to change my way of living. I wanted to live a more honest life and open my mind. In addition to helping people who live in unbelievable living circumstances. It was also a huge challenge to me to test my limits and myself.
Me, as a citizen of a 21st century coming from a developed European capital, I thought I lived my life in a very comfortable and easy way. I used a mobile phone, Internet. I could eat, drink, sleep and do whatever I wanted to do, anytime. I wanted to simplify my life and finally to concentrate on the most important things. I wanted to hear my voice within, and get closer to myself and to the world I’m living in. I was curious to see if it is possible to live a life without all my stuff that gives me comfort. It was very tough to leave my family, my best friend, and my own flat that was my home. But I believed that finally I would get closer to those values, which are really important. Not at last, I have so much love and I wanted to share that with others.
Last summer I decided to enroll at Richmond Vale Academy in Saint Vincent and study to be a Development Instructor for 6 months, and after to work in Africa for 6 months as a volunteer. It was a beautiful study period to learn about Africa and its history, about poverty and in general study about our world that surrounds us. We also spent a lot of time with the community of Saint Vincent and did many activities especially with the kids. It was such an eye-opening period! And at the same time I feel so blessed that I could meet so many people coming from different countries and cultures.
After that I travelled to Mozambique with my trio mates where we were working together for the next 6 months. We were working in ADPP Second Hand Clothes and Shoes Project. This project creates funds for HUMANA PEOPLE TO PEOPLE’s development projects by selling donated clothes, and to benefit the population. It creates jobs, giving an opportunity for people to sell clothes and earn enough money to support their family. It allows their children to go to school, and to be economically independent and not to depend on any aid. This is the only non-social project of Humana. This is a business, but it has a very important role in the whole system because from the income of this they can help finance all the projects in Mozambique, such as building schools, training teachers, supplying HIV/AIDS prevention and supporting local farmers, etc. We had a big variety of tasks and responsibilities to solve. Our principal task was to travel around Mozambique and visit markets, meet with our costumers and make a market investigation about their shopping habits, needs and how satisfied they are with ADPP.
Living and working in Africa was very tough but an amazing lifetime experience at the same time. Not a single day passed without thinking of how lucky I am just because of a simple fact that I was born where I was born. I was blessed with the opportunity to grow up in a beloved family, in a house with a garden that was always my shelter. I have never had to suffer from hunger. I could go to school and study what I wanted. If I was sick I could go to a doctor. I never thought that one of the greatest gifts of life is to open the tap and drink one glass of water. In Mozambique 50% of the population has no access to clean water, millions of women and children spending several hours a day collecting water. In our flat we had running water only in the afternoon. Then we had to fill our big water container to have water for the rest of the day.
Every time when we filled it with a bucket, I could only think of how those small 5 year olds girls can carry this on the top of their head. They are such hard workers and I never heard them complain. Everyday I realized again and again how strong these people are. Not just physically but mentally, too. Maybe this is what you can never become accustomed to. To be impressed day by day by the strength of the African people. How different our body structure is from them. How the way of living affects our genetics through the centuries. Hard physical work is so naturally part of the everyday life, even for kids, that is the most heartbreaking for me to see. My major reason for leaving my comfortable but stressful life was to know my limits. I wanted to try to see if it is possible to live a much more simple but happier life. I think I managed to slow down my life with the help of these 12 months in RVA and in Africa. I think I have never felt that calm and happy before.
I can be very thankful to those people who affected my life in the last year, especially my amazing and beloved trio-mates and colleagues in Africa. They helped me a lot in my bad and hard moments. We knew that we could always rely on each other, no matter what happened. This stability was so motivating and had huge positive effects on our work and also on our personal development. And I’m also thankful for all of life’s difficulties and challenges that helped us to be stronger day by day, and because of this we could stay as dedicated as we were since the very beginning.
Judit Szép, Hungary