A Final Return?

2012 was all things considered the most stable year I’ve had in a long time. I had the same job description, lived in the same house and grew my connection to a community that I feel at home in. It was another year of growing commitment between Erin and I in our relationship, our foundation getting stronger every day. The team I work on with Engineers Without Borders took huge steps forward in our clarity of purpose, our effectiveness as a team and our impact on the agricultural development projects we work with. I had the priviledge of working with five amazing university students from May to August, guiding them through their experience of a country that I love. Many friends have finished up their time in Ghana over the last year and it is becoming harder and harder to ignore the looming deadline of LH567, Accra with service to Frankfurt, 9pm, May 30, 2013.

If the theme of 2012 was stability then 2013 is shaping up to be just the opposite. After finishing up in Ghana Erin and I don’t know what is next. The excitement and fear of that unknown is starting to sink in. Though I’ve been back and forth many times over the past three years, coming back to live is different. In EWB we like to talk a lot about systemic change, because the systems we live and work in have incredible influence over the choices we make and the ways we live. In many ways, choosing Ghana has made living my values easy. Living life simply is much easier in Ghana than in Canada. Though life can be challenging, whether or not to face those challenges is not a choice I have to make. Nor is each day a struggle to meet my needs which makes it easy to be grateful for what I have. Canada is a different context however, and I admire everyone who I meet that is choosing to live their values in a world of seemingly infinite choice amidst the pressures of individualism and wealth. On my visits to Canada I have often ignored the challenges that we have in our systems and my own part in them, but I know I can’t do that forever. 2013 will be about finding a path in a new set of systems, renegotiating my sense of purpose and belonging.

For now I’m back home. Back to a vibrant community and a loving household. Back to some of the most inspiring and exciting work I’ve ever done as an agent for Kulemela Investments, working to solidify our model and prove our effectiveness in funding small, high-yielding agribusinesses in Ghana that are largely ignored by the rest of the finance sector. It is so motivating to see entrepreneurs like Issifu Basideen and Andrew Bille working on their visions for a prospering agriculture sector in their country. The support that we’ve received over the last few weeks from Canadians who share our vision of African agriculture as an investment opportunity, not a charity case has been overwhelming. I can’t wait to see how far we’ll be able to go over the next year.

So thanks to everyone who contributed to my 2012, colleagues in Ghana who have pushed my thinking and supported my growth, friends in Tamale who keep our small ultimate community alive and bring us together for music and meals, our neighbours who have taught me so much about love, acceptance and sharing, the kids who get me off of my computer and outside to run around the yard, reminding me to take a step back and a deep breath more often, all of the inspiring Ghanaians I work with who give me such a sense of excitement for Ghana’s future, friends and family at home who welcome me despite my poor communication, strange clothes and general sense of disorientation in a world I grew up in, and Erin for being the best partner I could ask for over the past three years in Ghana and into the next year of unknowns. Thanks to all of you for a fantastic year, and here’s to 2013, a new year of possibility.

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