Time For Departure

Today marks my last day of this journey. As I sit on the rooftop balcony of this hotel in Dar es Salaam, overlooking the busy road and many palm trees with a glimpse of the ocean in the distance, I am taking the time to reflect on my experience and all that it offered. Time for some High-Low-Grateful Fors!


THE HIGHS

The greetings. Never in my life will I ever again be greeted with as many Hellos in one day as I was in these past 8 weeks. My walks to and from work involved the most memorable conversations with people and I experienced a spectrum of feelings every day.

Old men riding bicycles. Everywhere! It was an adorable sight.

My host family. Being called Aunty by the family made me feel so welcomed! In the midst of a large language barrier, I loved finding ways to make my 3-year old host brother Isi laugh.

Fruit. When I had it, it was good. So good.

Exercise group. Those early-morning outdoor exercise classes with the local women were the best way to start the days.

Prayer call. It was a nice addition to my morning routine. It was a sound in the distance as I would begin to wake up, and I found it peaceful to hear while lying in bed and watching my room gradually light up by the morning sun.

Hearing the locals say “Hakuna Matata.” Yes, the phrase is actually a thing here! And I always smiled to myself when I heard it.

The beaches. My weekend excursions to the coasts of the island were short but oh so very sweet. I feel very lucky to have experienced the raw Zanzibari local lifestyle, but I also really appreciated the opportunity to explore how the tourism sector functions and provides to this economy. It was at times shocking to identify the radical differences that exist between the two – between the presentation of Zanzibar for tourism, and the true human life experienced only kilometers away from a coastal paradise that most villagers do not even have access to.

The work. Where lied some of my biggest highs, of course. It was rewarding. It was unique. It came with challenges that were all part of the experience. It gave me new ways of thinking and significantly increased my awareness of various cultural sensitivities. Each day was another lesson taught by another teacher, and I learned more from the conversations I had with these youth than they could have ever learned from me.


THE LOWS

While thinking about this list, I realized that a) there really weren’t too many lows and b) most of those that existed are quite juvenile. I deem them as petty inconveniences that came with the standard of living and none, thankfully, (I think), because of any sort of heart-wrenching exposure to a cultural or situational experience. Actually, during my debrief with other volunteers that spent their 8 weeks in another region of Tanzania, I was touched by the stories they shared of working with youth affected by HIV and all the heartbreaking accounts of severe poverty and sickness in their communities. I wasn’t exposed to any of these situations first-hand, as these issues were not what my project in Zanzibar was created to address. And I still don’t know if I should be sorry to say that I wasn’t exposed to any of this kind of shock to share with you, or if I should be happy to report that the severe health and social issues that we often think about when we discuss Africa are not what these people are all about. I have seen sad things here; I have heard sad things. Although none were explicitly related to the AIDS pandemic or to child mortality or to rape or to severe poverty or to hunger or to most of the issues tirelessly fixated on about Africa back home, I can share with you a handful of stories and situations that did break my heart.

The gender inequality… The lack of motivation – the fear – in fighting societal expectations of gender roles; the acceptance of a plague of thinking that certain people are destined to a certain life because of these roles… The feelings of helplessness experienced by youth who envision change in their communities but don’t have the means or support to make change sustainable… The lack of empowerment and belief in youth… The lack of access to education; the lack of knowing the importance of an education… The exceedingly high youth unemployment rates; the lack of job search tools and resources… The lack of support and materials for environmental sustainability practices… The neglect towards healthy living and nutrition with the already select food resources available…

These are just a handful, and I’m sure I learned only a small fraction of the impact of these issues on the people and communities I encountered. My job here was to inspire in a group of youth some positive thinking, empowerment, and change action on some of these issues, and I hope that I left in them even just a little influence and new knowledge to continue to engage their communities.

With that said, I’ll shift gears to the personal lows deemed Juvenile Petty Inconveniences:

Lack of food variety. I like food. I like eating a lot of different kinds of food, and that didn’t really happen so much here.

Being burnt to a crisp. A combination of a cloudy beach day, the powerful hidden African sun, and expired sunscreen. Oops. A couple painful days of recovery followed, as well as a trip to the pharmacy for new sunscreen.

Dirty feet. All the time, no matter what. It must be permanent by now.

Water and power outages. Nothing that water wells, buckets, headlamps, candles, or a wet towel for a bed sheet can’t fix, but still. A minimum three nights a week without power got me usually really absurdly sweaty.

The work. Where lied some of my biggest highs also housed some of my lows. Sometimes it was hard and tiring. To prepare and present facilitation workshops 5 days a week for 7 weeks straight is no easy feat and time was always on crunch for us (which was also hard to manage given most everyone else’s engagement in pole pole Swahili Time).

THE GRATEFUL FORS

I know that “everything” is not so specific, but, yeah… Everything. In addition to Everything, here is my incomplete list that needs no explaining:

Patience.
Electricity and Water.
Hugs.
Music.
The laugh of a child.
My program manager and fellow volunteer.
My family and friends.
Technology.
The word “Karibu.” I will miss this word a lot. It is pure, peaceful, and sincere, and it is associated with everything I’ve been welcomed to here and everyone who has welcomed me.

So, that’s that! I’m spending the rest of the day winding down and getting ready for my long trip home tonight. It’s been a whirlwind and I’m so happy and blessed for everything I saw, heard, learned, and experienced.  Asante sana, Tanzania. Kwaheri na tutaonana siku moja.

Thank you so much, Tanzania. Goodbye, and we will meet again.

When You Travel…

When you travel
You find yourself
Alone in a different way;
More attentive now
To the self you bring along.
Your more subtle eyes watching
You abroad,
And how what meets you
Touches that part of the heart
That lies low at home.

When you travel
A new silence goes with you
And if you listen
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.

A journey can become a sacred thing.

– John O’Donoghue

Take it Pole Pole, and Other Cultural Tidbits

Pole pole means “slowly” in Swahili, and it’s a pretty accurate description of how people get on with their lives here. It’s normal that my 9 a.m. workshops won’t really get into their grooves until about 9:30 a.m., once everyone has settled in from entering at around 9:15 a.m. My meetings with local partner organizations that are scheduled for 4 p.m. usually don’t start for another half hour to an hour. My 6 a.m. exercise workouts with Mama Mariam (my host mom) should have us out the door by at least quarter-to-six, but we usually only make it to the rest of the group by 6:15.

All this, folks, is a little something called Swahili Time. And that’s just the way it goes.

To conquer Swahili Time just a little in the classroom, we told our class that if they arrive past 9:15 a.m. more than three times, they have to prepare an apology letter in English and present it. Happy to say the strategy has worked, hahaha.

There’s a lot more to say about the culture though. People are very social here – maybe it’s because I’m an obvious visitor, but I do also see and hear groups of people hanging out in front of their stores or calling each other “kaka” or “dada” (brother or sister) around the market. Everyone is family here. I am called “Auntie” at home (and I love it!) and there is an incredibly large respect for elders here. And not just for elderly people, but for people actually older than you in age. Kids sometimes will greet me with Shikamoo (I hold your feet), a greeting used for formally addressing elders. In response, the elder answers with Marahaba, which welcomes and acknowledges the younger person’s respect.

People here tend to want to know three things about you: How old are you? Are you married? Are you Muslim? They also add “-i” or any other vowel to the end of everything, and change the names of others to also reflect this. My host father’s name is Rashid, but Mama always says “Rashidi.” My manager’s name is Shaib, but the locals call him “Shaibu.” The locals and students shorten my name to “Glory,” which is kinda cute. And they seem to understand simple English words if I add the infamous ending to them as well: Bill = billi, Change = changey, Music = musiki, Dance = dancey, Fresh = freshi. I get a kick out of it for sure!

It is also absurdly noisy here, but I’ve come to very much enjoy the sounds. My favourite has been hearing the muezzin recite the morning call to prayer that resonates throughout the entire land. It’s sometimes a soft noise in the background as I’m waking from sleep, perhaps drained out from the morning rooster obnoxiously cocking outside my bedroom window, and sometimes it’s very loud and clear – an interesting and calming voice to just lay down and listen to before rising from bed and starting the day. Prayer is five times a day, so my classroom schedule and my manager’s availability revolve around those times. I barely notice it though, and it’s no inconvenience to someone who just needs an office and a computer to work on throughout the day.

I’m attending a traditional Islamic wedding tomorrow afternoon with my host mother, so that’ll be another taste of the culture that I get to experience!

My Zanzibari Life

It’s been four weeks in Zanzibar and just another four weeks to go! Time flies. Here’s what my usual days look like:

5:30 am: Wake up

6:00 – 7:00 am: Exercise! My host mother participates in an exercise group six days a week with other local women and men. I can’t always join her every morning, but I try to make it out at least 3 times a week. It happens at an outdoor basketball court and the hour includes a ton of chanting, singing, call-and-repeating, and it is truly the most fun part of my day! On the weekends, we all wear the same shirt colour and run a route around the town too.

7:00 8:00 am: Read, shower, pop my daily pills (calcium magnesium, a probiotic, and an anti-malaria), pack my bag for the day, and have breakfast. For showering, the bathroom does have a showerhead, which I was surprised to find; but there are some days without running water, so then occurs the experience of the bucket bath (and rather calming too, believe it or not). Breakfast usually consists of some sort of bread, an omelette, and lemongrass tea. If I’m lucky, I might find a banana or some pieces of watermelon on my plate too.

8:00 – 9:00 am: Any time within this hour, I make my way to work. The office is a 20 to 25-minute walk away from home – sometimes 15 minutes on a be-quick-why-is-everyone-calling-out-to-me-I-just-want-to-hide-behind-my-sunglasses morning, but 20 to 25 minutes if I decide to stroll my way over and stop off to buy a mango or two from the mango stand man, which is usually the case.

9:00 – 11:00 am: On T/Th, this is office work and program planning time. On M/W/F, I facilitate leadership development workshops in our Emerging Leaders Program for a group of 10 youth aged 19-25 who are members of local NGOs. If they successfully complete the program requirements, they receive a certificate that proves their leadership training with YCI, which can then be used to help them earn more leadership opportunities within their communities. Topics so far have covered communication styles, conflict resolution, credibility, active listening, teamwork, community development, event planning, problem solving, goal setting, workplace tools, public speaking, etc. Their major project includes planning two community events in December: World Aids Day and International Volunteer Day. The next few weeks will be spent learning about the steps to project management and execution so that they will have the right tools and knowledge needed to plan some successful events!

11:00 am – 2:00 pm: Sometime in between here, I have lunch at one of the local restaurants around the office. There are only a select two or three that I stick to; there’s really not much variety anyway so I’m better off eating at the spots I’ve determined to look the least sketchy and most hygienic. And with that, still, my standards are not very high. Sometimes, I will take some chapati to-go from breakfast, smother some peanut butter on it, cut up some mango (purchased during my morning walk) and roll it all up into a refreshing wrap. And just yesterday I discovered a vendor that sells DATES! So now I’ve included that into the mix. So, so good.

4:00 – 6:00 pm: On M/F, this is office work and program planning time. On T/Th, I facilitate Business English classes to 12 local youth that focus on developing both workplace and interpersonal skills needed for the tourism sector (customer service and front desk, restaurant work, hotel, tour guide, etc). It’s fun! Role-plays, group work, English vocabulary, oh my!

On Wednesday, this time is dedicated to visiting different local NGOs’ environmental project sites or meeting with the NGO executives to hear about their current environmental efforts. We are doing preliminary needs-assessment work and consulting with the NGOs in order to provide basic information about each project to the incoming Environmental Youth Innovator who arrives in January. I’ve really enjoyed this experience so far because I’ve realized that although I don’t exactly have professional knowledge in the field of environment, with my communications background I know how to ask the right questions. And when doing needs-assessment work, especially in a cross-cultural setting, asking the right questions is important to achieve.

6:00 – 8:30 pm: Only this week, I’ve started to become a little more comfortable with no longer hiding behind my sunglasses every second that I am outside. Yes, bare-eyed means eye contact, eye contact means more greetings, more greetings means more potential conversations, and more potential conversations means more strangers trying to find out where I’m going and what I’m doing and joining me for portions of my walk until they realize they’re probably heading too far and need to leave me on my way. But for the most part, the conversations remain quite harmless. People here are just friendly and genuinely interested, and they make you aware of it, too; that’s all. Plus, if ever I need it, I’ve learned a couple Swahili phrases that if spoken in a nice stern tone of voice will send the right message.🙂 All in all, my walks are just another fun part of the experience and I don’t think I’d want it another way!

After my walk, it’s home-time hang-out. This involves being greeted by all the neighbourhood kids once I turn the corner to my house, spending some time playing with them, asking them getting-to-know-you questions from my Swahili phrasebook, learning new songs and games from them, having photoshoots with them until my camera battery drains, etc. Once I make it through the door, I hopefully shower, read, and relax; unfortunately, however, there often isn’t enough time to complete my program planning during office hours, so I must spend the time at home preparing next day’s workshop. Bummer! But what can ya do.

8:30 pm – 9:30 pm: Dinner time. Almost always consists of rice (my favourite is when I get pilau!), fish, spinach, and then some sort of change-up between chapati, potato stew, or cabbage mix. Not a lot of other meat or fruit, but I still always enjoy my meal with a cup of a ginger tea. Oh, and being at home means that I do as the family does, and eat with my hands! Also, my home experiences power outages at least 3 or 4 nights a week for about two hours at a time, so we often eat dinner by flashlight or candlelight. Again, yet another calming experience.

One night a week, I try to head to Stone Town (only 15 minutes away by daladala) with a fellow volunteer to give our taste buds a little something different (e.g. Ethiopian, Indian, Swahili, etc) and it’s always a delicious treat. Stone Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and tourist attraction here on this island and I still find it a strange feeling to so easily and in a matter of minutes, go from my rural little African village to a place catered to tourism and distracted with Western influence. Same goes for my weekends away to the beach and the ocean and the hotels along the coast. But these thoughts are all potential for a whole ‘nother blog post…

9:30 pm – 10:30 pm: Crawl under my mosquito net, do some reading if I’m not too tired, and fall asleep to do it all over again the next day! I love going to bed so early; I will likely never again get a full 8-hours or more of sleep nightly as I do here.

That’s it in a nutshell! Now that you’ve read my life brief, are you more curious about certain parts of my day? Ask me anything and hopefully I can respond to you in good time!

A Goal, In Perspective

One of the projects I run here in Zanzibar is an Emerging Leaders Program, where I facilitate sessions three days a week on leadership-related topics to a select group of local youth aged 19-25.  During the first week, we covered several communication subjects (i.e. nonverbal, active listening, public speaking and giving presentations, etc) and learned the importance of effective communication as the basis to any successful leadership work. Last week, we covered the fundamentals of good leadership, brainstormed the qualities needed to build ourselves as leaders, and discussed the qualities found in our own established and admired leaders in our communities.

When asked the question What makes a good leader?, the youth were inspiring in their responses and in their participation throughout the session. Their values are in tact, their passion strong, their dreams soaring, and their drive powerful. It was a pleasure to hear how their goals and vision for their own leadership potential are developed with the traits that youth back home also strive for.  The participants’ list included the following:

credibility – respects other options (open-mindedness) – cooperation  – non-corruption – honesty – keeps promises – transparency – unselfish (selflessness) – good behaviour

Also during our Leadership week, we facilitated a goal setting workshop and allowed the youth to practice using some techniques for setting their own personal goals. To explain each step, I asked my colleague to call out a sample goal that I then wrote down on the flip chart to work through with the class. His example goal was “to visit China in the next year.” Each class, as the participants work on their activities, we talk with them casually about their progress and have them ask us questions, etc. During the last few minutes of this session, my colleague (who later told me the story) had a conversation with one of the participants who wanted to know if his personal goal reached my colleague’s expectations.

Going to China is a big deal; very expensive, lots of planning, etc. The participant was wondering if he had a good goal or if he should change it since going to China is such a large feat.

The participant’s goal was to give his mother and two sisters shelter and protection and to be able to afford to keep them healthy. His milestones were: 1) to improve English with the help of the Emerging Leaders program (to lead to a better job); 2) to get enough money for paper, ink and/or printing; 3) to hand out resumes; 3) to earn a job with enough income to support his family.

…What a much more worthwhile feat.

I was glad to later hear that the conversation opened my colleague’s eyes and allowed him to put his personal overall goal and desire (to have money and gain material wealth) into perspective.

So, a thankful learning experience for all involved! And I’m beginning to see how these youth will teach me much more than I could ever, ever teach them.

At Your Finest Service

“Amina, naweza kununua maji wapi?” Amina, where can I buy water?

“Leo?” Today?

“Yes.”

“Kesho.”

“Tomorrow? …Oh, okay.”

I wasn’t sure why she told me tomorrow – maybe she was busy, maybe the prices were higher that day because of Eid-el-Haj and she was looking out for me, maybe she didn’t realize I was on the verge of dehydration – who knows. I went back to my room and stared at my near empty 1.5 L water bottle. I left the pack of water that I bought two days before at my office, which really wouldn’t be a problem but it was now the weekend and I knew I wouldn’t make it through to the next day with just a few gulps of water left.

I went back to the kitchen, pointed to my bottle, put on my sorry to bother you face, and said in very choppy Swahili, “Amina, this water is not enough until tomorrow.”

“Okay, we go now.” She understood.

We start to walk. Only two spots down from our home, my homestay mother is working at her hair salon. I pass by and greet her and tell her that I am going to get water. Amina and I continue to walk and she brings me around the corner where I buy a half dozen 1.5 L bottles for 4500 shillings ($3) from a lady who was taking a nap in her small shop-tent that sold only drinks. As I was paying, Amina took hold of the pack and then we began to walk back. “Here,” I extended my hand. “I can.”

“No, no.”

“Please, I can.” I gently tried to take the pack from her.

“No, no, no, me.”

“Ohhh, asante sana; thank you. You are too nice Amina.” I didn’t want to push it.

Maybe I should have.

Amina is the dada of the homestay I live at. She is 17 years old and works for the family. She wakes up at around 5:30am every day to begin chores, and I have yet to see her at a time where she isn’t cleaning or cooking. The home is always tidy and the food always well-cooked and flavorful – I know she works hard. She carried my bags to my room when I first arrived, and shows me respect by formally greeting me with Shikamoo, and pours my tea during meals, and offers me a seat when I am standing, and never lets me help with anything when I ask to – all despite me trying to communicate the message that “It’s okay… thank you very much… you don’t have to… I can do it… I would like to stand.”

We walk around the corner back to the house. My host mother is outside the salon now braiding a girl’s hair and chatting with a small group of other women. They look up and see us walking back side by side; I see my host mother’s eyes gaze toward the pack of water that Amina is holding. Once we get out front, she smiles and asks how I am doing and I stop to talk for a few moments.

I couldn’t help but feel guilty with the way it looked to have had Amina carrying my water. I understand that I am a guest, and polite hosts serve their guests – such cultural trait is no different here. In all reality, I’m sure my host mother would expect from Amina to help me and I really don’t know if she would have been scolded had she let me hold it, but I just can’t shake the image of the housekeeper carrying the white girl’s heavy pack of water. I felt a wrench in my stomach as it was happening.

Amina is kind and clearly stays very true to her responsibilities and role. She is part of the family and is treated as such – I actually thought she was just another one of the sisters when I first arrived. Along with Amina, my host mother, and the rest of the family, I am well taken care of here. But not only are these frequent acts something I am not used to, I also feel doubly conflicted when I am being served in a place by the people that I have come myself to serve.

On African Ground

My first time on African ground was when I landed in Nairobi, Kenya to connect to my next final flight to Dar es Salaam for my in-country orientation. An elderly Dutch man, who told me flies frequently to the Congo, occupied the seat beside me on this eight-hour airplane ride. He learned early on that it would be my first time on the continent.

After what felt like centuries, the descent finally began and for the last twenty minutes of the flight, my eyes stayed locked to the simple but beautiful birds-eye landscapes outside my window. When I snapped out of my mesmerization, I turned to look back to the gentleman. His raised eyebrows pointed to the window as he stated simply and matter-of-factly: “Africa.”

Africa, I whispered to myself in response.

A couple hours after that and there I was, exiting the Dar es Salaam airport in Tanzania to be greeted at the outdoor arrivals gate by the very friendly Dowdi, a local taxi driver that helps out the organization by picking up and dropping off its volunteers from the airport.

“Karibu Tanzania!” Welcome to Tanzania, he exclaimed.

“Asante sana!” Thank you very much!  

He let out a belt of jolly laughter, to which I chose to interpret as an appreciation of my first attempt to speak Swahili.

After getting acquainted and settling into the car, much of the ride was silent as I tried to take in the scenes. I felt like I was watching the opening clips of some sort of African life documentary – a group of young men hanging out by the side of the road, shop vendors posted tightly side by side, ever-so-talented women carrying large baskets on their head, people on bicycles nonchalantly riding in the centre of congested traffic, dala dalas transporting an always-over-capacity number of people to their destinations – just the most interesting snapshots of a different lifestyle, everywhere I looked.

I arrived in Zanzibar days later and was greeted with many Jambos (Hellos) from the local people. In fact, each morning and evening on my walk to and from work, a Jambo or two (or three… or four… or seventeen) never fails to be called out as I walk by the hustle and bustle of the markets, although I’m never always sure from which direction it comes. Still, I shout a Sijambo! back, hoping that whoever greeted me hears my response.

If the first week in Zanzibar is any indication of how the next six weeks will be here, I am looking forward to some great connections with the local youth and NGO partners, successful progress with our project objectives, and most definitely a tasty surplus of mangoes and avocados!🙂

A view from the ferry boat to Zanzibar

A snapshot of the market I walk through on my way to work

Something That Matters

As I depart to the airport in about 24 hours, I felt like leaving this here as a final piece before I start writing to you from across the globe. It was my response to a scholarship application for my upcoming Tanzania project that asked the question, “How would this international volunteer opportunity contribute to your understanding of what it means to be a global citizen?”

Earlier this month, I attended a local Toronto art festival called Blackout Fest. The theme of the event was “The Ultimate Question” and the artists’ installations were designed to answer their own ultimate questions. Upon entering the building, I spotted a large blackboard with the words “What is your Ultimate Question” and responses from attendees written all over the board in different coloured chalks. I felt compelled to contribute to this interactive piece, but I had never truly thought about any ultimate question before. I stood there, standing, reading, observing. I chatted with others briefly, and turned again to face the board. What IS my ultimate question? I thought. What question, when asked, guides me in whatever it is that I do?

And then I realized – that was it.

“What can you do?”

What. CAN. You. Do.

There’s two ways to emphasize it: One, the question is asked as a way to move past whatever I feel I cannot control, as in, “well, whatcanyado.” This helps to not dwell on the small things. Second, the question is asked as a way to empower myself to take on something in life, whatever it is, big or small. What is it that I can do right now to make someone or something a little better, and to make both myself and my friends and family more thankful, more aware, and more whole?

What I have learned is that doing things – meaningful things – is often no easy task. Good things work for those who work at them. A volunteer opportunity like this would give me that hands-on-in-your-face exposure and understanding of the lifestyles and experiences of a culture and people so different from mine, but yet still very much similar. I guarantee they ask themselves the same ultimate questions.

So when I think of global citizenship, I of course think about the issues of the developing world and how I can address or impact those issues, but that’s not where global citizenship ends or even begins. Volunteering internationally would give me a valuable perspective and important tangible experience on the social issues I wonder about, so that I may have broadened knowledge of these issues for when I return home.

With my passionate involvement in student affairs and youth leadership and development over the past few years, I have become committed to instilling in post-secondary students and youth the skills, motivation, and awareness they need to create positive change on both local and global levels. I want to continue to be a role model for students I mentor by taking this opportunity to inspire and motivate other young people to positively influence the world in their own ways and do the same. And so global citizenship, to me, is indeed much more than working overseas on a short-term basis…

It’s taking what I learn overseas and using the knowledge to help lead a positive life for myself and for others in any and all communities that I am a part of. It’s learning how to have purpose for everything I do, because those in other parts of the world have no other choice. It’s committing to making informed choices and actions with a heightened awareness to think critically about those actions and their consequences. It’s making big changes in little steps. It’s learning that in order to truly achieve change, I must continue to foster a globally connected mindset and influence those around me to participate. At this point in my life and in my knowledge, the door for this change is unlocked and ready, but I know this upcoming opportunity will build in me the confidence and inspiration I need to give it a push wide open.

There is a saying that goes, “If you are going to doubt anything about yourself, doubt your limits.” While deciding on whether to participate in this volunteer experience, I thought about this quote frequently. The placement in Tanzania this Fall will not be easy, and with it will come many challenges. I am open to these challenges because I know they will expand my perspective on what it means to live as a global citizen.

And because if I had this opportunity, I know that my answer to the question “What can you do?” would most certainly be something that matters.

>
>

So, now it’s your turn – what’s YOUR ultimate question?

But friendship is precious…

But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life; and thanks to a benevolent arrangement of things, the greater part of life is sunshine.

– Thomas Jefferson

Very grateful and appreciative for the incredible friends and strangers alike who have helped me through these past few weeks and who have supported and contributed through donations and astoundingly kind words. It has all meant so much to me. Thank you, a million times over.