Hi, friends & followers! Warm and sunny greetings from South Florida. Once again, it’s been a while since I last posted. I can attribute that to the productive, yet rather uneventful life that is currently mine. Sometimes you just need to be still for a while, ya know? You need to unpack your backpack, buy real groceries and make trips to the bank that don’t involve the word “withdraw.” Although this slow life’s been quite lovely down here, it is certainly tough to maintain that sense of excitement & mad passion when you’re watching your backpack accumulate dust in the corner every day. I think I even heard her cry for me last week. Sad, right? I’ve been working as much as possible, which supplies me with life’s most essential drug: Motivation. That, combined with the abundance of sunshine and nearby Atlantic Ocean, has made for some quality me-time recently. I’ve been living with my fabulous parents for over three and a half months (where does the time go?!), so you can bet your bottom dollar that I am plotting out my next moves constantly. I have been putting off admitting this for quite some time now, but I’m finally ready to come out of the CrossFit closet. It’s true, guys! I am a dirty, dirty CrossFitter. Even worse? I love it! Since you haven’t seen three bicep-flexing selfies per day on Instagram, and I haven’t coerced anyone into going Paleo, I know you’re finding this news hard to believe. It’s true though. I feel better having admitted it already. Phew! I really should thank Sarah (more on her in a few) for forcing me to come clean with this. In between eating massive salads and ungodly amounts of quinoa (I have also become quite the self-declared nutritionist in Florida), I spend my days reading various travel blogs and browsing thousands of “pins” on the time-sucking Pinterest. I pull inspiration from everywhere and anywhere, keeping the daydream alive as I sling scotch & white wine into the night at a little bar around the corner. The dreaming— It’s what keeps me going. It’s the fan to the flames, if you will. So, here I am with a plan……and a big announcement that I couldn’t be more thrilled to share: AMELIA IS GOING TO AFRICA!
That’s right, guys. I am throwing you a curveball here and adding the beautiful country of Rwanda into the mix. How did this decision come about, you ask? Well that’s where it gets even better. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve probably seen my frequent posts promoting the one & only, Atlanta-based Kula Project. They’re generally followed by a shameless hashtag or two that precede the words, “for the farmer” or “Kula love.” One of my oldest and best friends, Sarah Buchanan and her boyfriend James Sasson, began The Kula Project in 2012 with the first trip taking them to Swaziland. What began as a project aimed at conquering hunger, Kula is now a full-blown organization that attacks poverty from every aspect. At their core lies a simple and effective idea: The billions of small-scale farmers on this planet have the power to eliminate poverty — and Kula is simply giving them the opportunity to do so. That’s billion, with a “B,” not a typo. They strongly believe it all starts with the farmer, and given that some sources estimate as much as 40% of the world’s population is composed of these small-scale farmers, that’s tough to argue against. Like any non-profit wishing to change the world, The Kula Project needs their story to be eloquently told, and more importantly — felt. They want people all over the world to hear the inspiring stories of their farmers, many of who survived the Rwandan Genocide. It was one of the world’s darkest and most horrific moments in history. In just 100 days, roughly 800,000 people were killed, while the rest of the world stood back and watched in silence. You may be familiar with the events, thanks to the brilliant portrayal from Hollywood, Hotel Rwanda. This is the Rwanda you’ve all heard about (if you’ve heard anything at all), but guess what. Times, they are a’changing. Since the atrocities in 1994, Rwanda has become the role model for developing countries in Africa. They boldly banned non-biodegradable polythene bags in 2008, forcing the most developed of nations to take a long, hard look in the mirror. You won’t find old plastic bags lining the river banks or freeways there — at least not in the way you see in, say….I don’t know…The United States. I don’t think you understand my hatred for plastic bags, so when I discovered this piece of information, I couldn’t stop smiling from ear to ear. In addition to taking a giant stand for Mother Nature, Rwanda also has a very special day on the last Saturday of every month, aptly called, Umuganda. It roughly translates to “coming together in common purpose to achieve outcome.” How beautiful is that? The people of Rwanda come together on this day to do a variety of public works. Not only has this program proven to be economically beneficial, but it’s also spreading the ultimate and empowering message of “unity” throughout the country. I haven’t even been yet and I think it’s safe to say that we, as humans and as citizens of the most developed nations, perhaps have more to learn from a tiny little country in Africa than we once thought. I, for one, am all ears & heart. I cannot wait to learn what the rolling hills and resilient people of Rwanda have to teach me.
An old photo taken at The Kula Farm in North Atlanta. We were planting watermelons and zucchini as part of some hydroponic research they were interested in at the time. It’s fascinating to have watched them grow since this was taken — both the food and Kula.
I always support Kula with my “For The Farmer” shirt when I travel. Can’t wait to do so in one of the countries they touch. This particular shot was taken in a rice field in Pai, Thailand last October.
I will be traveling to Atlanta in mid-May to review the plan of attack with Sarah, while cramming in all information I can at the Kula office. We will depart on May 19th for Kigali, Rwanda, stopping somewhere in Europe for a quick layover (as that’s the general flight path between the U.S. and Rwanda). We will meet Sanne, the director of the Kula Market, in Kigali. She happens to also be a longtime friend of mine, and with her incredible eye for all things craft, jewelry and design, has contributed to the success of Kula tremendously. Once we arrive in Kigali, the magic will commence. I will be working mostly with Sarah and the videographer, who will be capturing the farmers’ stories from behind the lens of a camera. I will have the surreal opportunity to spend time with the farmers and their families, getting to know them, their past and their hopes & dreams. Over our 10-day stay, I will be taking in all of the knowledge and emotion possible, then spitting it back onto the keys of my laptop. For me, this is quite literally a dream come true. Well, it can be. The thing is, I need YOU. In order for all of this to come to fruition, I need to raise the funds. This is my first go ’round with raising a substantial amount of money, and I am hopeful & optimistic, yet slightly nervous. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t. So many of you have followed me for almost 2 years now and the positive energy you’ve supplied me with is something that I am thankful for every single day. I envision the trip to Rwanda as a group effort, not a solo one. After all, that’s the simple and beautiful nature in which non-profits thrive, right? This isn’t a traditional adventure for Amelia, so to speak — it’s better. With your help, it’s a chance for me to give back and shine the light on some very special people in this world of ours. So, here I am. Today marks the first day of my official Rwandan fundraiser. Wow. Those words felt better coming off my fingers than I even imaged. If you can only donate $1, do it. Every single, little, tiny, bit counts. If you’ve ever raised money for a cause yourself, then you already know this. I hope this goes without saying, but I will be grateful for any and all contributions. I have about 9 weeks to hit the $3,000 mark and am ready to hit the ground running! Let’s do this. You, me and Kula — we have some magic to make. You can help me kick this thing off by donating here, then following these easy steps:
- Step 1: Select, “Fund a Trip” (You’ll see my name just below, indicating that this button is just for me!).
- Step 2: Enter amount
- Step 3: Select, “One-Time Donation”
- You will then be taken to a PayPal page, where you will enter your credit card & billing information to make the donation official. Easy!
Well, here’s to a successful 9 weeks of fundraising, hey?! The “thank you” that comes with this particular post is too big for the WordPress site to handle, but I’ll say it anyways. THANK YOU A MILLION TIMES OVER! Even if you can only afford to give some words of encouragement and support, I will remain grateful. It is because of you all that this idea has come to life. For that, I am beyond lucky. Updates to come soon, so please stay tuned. So much sunny love from Florida. x