‘I’m going to get that sofa and throw it away’ she said. She being one of my best friends speaking to me just a year ago. She meant well but she didn’t understand that my sofa, alongside my TV and access to mindless time consuming programmatic watching was saving me. When I was on my sofa systematically eating my body weight, I was in as close to a happy place as I was mentally able to be. I didn’t have the energy to speak to anyone, do anything or go out…unless it was to replenish my food rations.
I was depressed. I felt hopeless, frustrated, lost, scared and so completely sad. Let me go back a little, back to January 2014. I was living in Ghana, life had finally come together home, job, routine, circle of friends and it felt good and then I got this feeling that by the end of the year I would no longer be living in Ghana. Fast forward to December 2014 and, you guessed it, I was moving back to London.
When I went back I had a conversation with God and said that I wanted to
- Go back to working with the Diaspora and improve my knowledge
- I wanted to work on new African countries and visit them as well
- I wanted to work in the British government because I wanted to be in a space that forced me to have to understand how it worked and who it worked for
I was in a relationship that had been long distant but at the time I thought ‘this is it’ so that was part of my reason for heading home (second to Ghana) with great excitement as to where next. A few months in I was ‘head hunted’ for an exciting role that ticked my diaspora desires and paid better than I had imagined for myself. It all seemed perfect almost too good to be true…and unfortunately that is what came to pass. So almost literally a year to this week I found myself in a position where my relationship hadn’t worked, the job didn’t materialise, I was in debt and had no solid job prospect.
I remember feeling utterly hopeless and spent a lot of time crying and angry. At the beginning of June my current role got confirmed and mid-June I started work. What was the role I hear you ask, it entailed
- Working on a humanitarian diaspora project which focused on Sierra Leone, Somalia and Syria
- It entailed me travelling to Sierra Leone to carry out research. I have also been to Senegal for work in this same period as well as a number of European countries I didn’t know I wanted to visit. Also just got back from Turkey but more on that later!
- I am the secretariat for an All Party Parliamentary Group on Diaspora, Development and Migration – in essence working with the British government
Would you believe I was so consumed with anger, upset and disappointment it wasn’t until January 2016 that I was able to left up my head from the cloud that had been consuming me and see how completely God had responded to my requests. I hadn’t seen it because it didn’t come in the way I had thought/ decided it would. It didn’t come perfectly formed ticking all boxes and it didn’t come when I had wanted it too.
But it came!
So no let’s go even further back to when I was a little girl and wanted to do certain things when I grew up, one of which was to work for the UN and make a difference (save the world if I’m totally honest). Study and experience have shown me that it is not only the UN that can make real differences in this world though, undeniably, it plays an extremely important part. At the moment working with UN agencies and other key global decision makers is where I feel my way forward lies as a change maker, a voice for those who are not often heard.
So let’s go back to current day, Turkey, Istanbul and an event called the World Humanitarian Summit where a little girls dream came true and I presented the important work and role that diaspora humanitarians make.
Diasporans who are simply people who live outside their place of heritage but are connected strongly and meaningfully to this country which they have this connection too. It was an honour to be given the opportunity and to be able, with 5 other diaspora representatives, to reach out to a hopefully more inclusive, more open humanitarian system to improve the way we respond to crisis together.
To make a difference and hopefully change the world a little in the process which could change an individual’s life a lot. This experience has changed me, altered me in a way I want to hold on to and nurture and help grow and continue to move me closer to being the person God put me here to be. It is a delightful and extremely daunting feeling, but I am grateful for it as I feel alive, present, connected to this world in which we live.
For a long time I didn’t and it is a horrible feeling, like standing out and looking in and feeling completely disassociated from all that is taking place with friends, family and yourself.
What a difference a year makes and yet as I write this I think perhaps I needed that low point, those feelings of hopelessness. Why? Because the whole time I was feeling that way so much was laying ahead of me that I could not have imagined. This realisation hit me when I got to Terminal 2 to check in and wait for the other participants. Just that thought ‘wow, remember where we were this time last year?’
It wasn’t until the Chair at the WHS called my name (some information glitches made me a married woman and gave me a promotion from project manager to director…from his mouth to God’s ear perhaps) that I realised that this personal ambition was coming true and I was so far from where I had been emotionally, professionally, mentally and spiritually. That low point taught me faith and it is that lesson that keeps pushing me to believe in more and work to achieve more because anything is possible and when it comes to all the good that is waiting for us, we know nothing.
So I want to encourage you to keep on doing what you are doing and being open to that voice, call it your gut, call it the holy spirit, call it what you want but if it is encouraging you to take an exciting but scary positive new path, listen, trust and follow it. After all what have you really got to lose?