I am selfish.
At nineteen, I took my first trip abroad: I was hooked. By my early twenties I was saving every penny I made 6-8 months out of the year so I could afford a plane ticket to the next great place. By 28, I had touched all seven continents and had a photo portfolio I was proud of. I thought these were crowning achievements: until I realized they weren’t.
While in Nepal in 2010, I was walking down the street on my first day in country when a young child with no legs grabbed onto me begging for money. After years of traveling, I was hardened to this and I did not react. After all, you can’t afford to help everyone right? This time proved to be different however and the image of this child stayed with me the entire trip. After a month of hiking in the mountains as planned, I went back to the same place (dirty sidewalk under a walking bridge) where I had the encounter the previous month: the child was still there.
I can’t explain what was going through my mind at the time, but I had a desire to try and understand the world through this child’s eyes, even though I knew there was absolutely no way I could come close. I sat on the sidewalk with them for over an hour, just smiling and playing and trying to connect, all the while feeling the uncomfortable stares of people passing by. At the end of the hour, I supplied a new set of clothes and a meal and went on my way.
After coming home and processing the encounter, it hit me hard that so many people around the world will never feel the sensation of comfort. Whether that be from a parent, an amazing restaurant meal, new bed sheets or a leather couch in front of the TV: they will never know the feeling. This realization was eye opening and I was disappointed that I spent so many years traveling for selfish reasons when I could have been helping.
This is why I joined MGA.
Million Girl Army is where I’ve found the opportunity to help spread the message to middle school girls that you can be empowered to change someone’s world.
Because changing someone’s world IS changing the world and nothing else could ever be such a grand adventure.