Africa: Preparing for a Life-Changing Journey

Carla E. Aguilar is a CRS staff member based in San Antonio, TX. She is accompanying a group of 12 to Ghana and Burkina Faso on the first ever Hispanic Ministry leadership delegation immersion trip. We’re expecting to hear more from her (as Internet connections allow) during and after her trip.

June 23, 2010:

I’ve spent weeks preparing for my first-ever trip to western Africa! And, despite getting all of the dreaded vaccinations (five in one day!), picking up my anti-malarial drugs, and packing my backpack—the reality of this voyage hadn’t really hit me until today.

The nearness of my trip became real as I flipped my calendar open this morning and saw AFRICA written on the June 27 to July 7 squares. I initially got the jitters, but I think that I am ready and eager to go.

As the Advocacy Program officer for CRS in the Southwest region, I am wired for action and waiting can be difficult for personalities like mine. But, perhaps this is a good time to reflect on my hopes for this trip.

Here are two things that are stirring deep within me:

1. Witness: I’ve always had a longing to visit Africa, mostly because I love to meet people and learn from their experiences and realities. The HIV/AIDS and poverty realities in Africa are hard to fathom and I’m not sure how I am going to react to witnessing such things. Part of me is nervous and the other is excited to learn more about CRS projects overseas. As I flip through our itinerary, I’m anxious to be a part of our visits to orphanages, maternal child survival clinics, flooded zones of Ouagadougou, water and sanitation projects, the Kakum National Park, and dinner with the Arcbhishop of Burkina Faso.

2. Transformation: I’m not sure what to expect, but the one thing I am sure of is that there is no way that I can walk away from this experience unchanged. My priority for this trip is to keep an open mind and heart. I’m ready to be transformed and for the real journey to begin.

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