I had dreamed about this day for so long.
For nine years, I had wanted to go to Africa. And here it was: the Big Day. June 16th,
2013. I was off to Rwanda, Africa for two months. I could hardly breathe – I was so
I was prepared and ready to change the world. For weeks I had planned what things I
could bring for the children. I had bought bubbles, and stickers, and tambourines, and
pipe cleaners, and printed out lyrics to teach them English songs.
I watched movies the entire flight from Toronto to Amsterdam, because I couldn’t sleep,
because I was going to Africa.
8 hours earlier, I had kissed my family goodbye – leaving behind comfort, warm
showers, yummy food, and solid internet connection. But in that moment, those things
didn’t matter to me.
I was eighteen and going to Africa, and I was going to change the world.
Let’s fast forward. It’s been three and a half months since I’ve been home from Africa,
and I want to be honest with you. Africa was not easy. I couldn’t speak the language in
Rwanda, I was able to have a shower maybe once a week, and it felt like my WIFI never
But Africa was the best thing that ever happened to me.
Africa changed me. We’d need to seriously grab a couple mugs of tea, some comfy
chairs and about three hours before I’d fully be able to tell you the difference Africa has
made in my life.
But I will tell you this – Africa is the best decision I have ever made. Africa gave me
grace, demonstrated forgiveness, showed me love, and taught me real faith.
Africa held me in her arms, and whispered, “This world is full of beautiful, broken
people, who need beautiful, unbroken grace.”
And I held those African children tight and I kissed them, and those children taught me
what it really means to live.
I ate food with the villagers, and walked with them for three hours to get their water and
I was huffing and puffing and trying to make it up the hill, and the four year old beside
me was carrying a 20 lb. bucket filled with water, and she was smiling at me, and I was
inspired, hoping to someday be like her.
And I was in a safari jeep, looking up at the stars that covered the entire African sky,
and I felt so small, but also like I was on top of the world. In that moment I knew in my
very soul that I was created for a purpose.
In Africa, I realized that this world is very big. In Africa, I realized that the people in this
world are very beautiful.
So my friends, you see, I thought I left everything and went to Africa because Africa
The truth is: I left everything and went to Africa because I needed Africa.
—————————————————————————————————————————————- Aliza Latta is program coordinator at Fluid. She also serves on the leadership team at Change Conference, a yearly event that inspires high school students to make a lasting change in the world. Read more on her blog here!