written by Ginger Van Steenvoort, a volunteer on an EDGE trip in 2015
What does adventure mean to you? Is it scaling the walls of a fortress, sailing the seas, or biking the Rockies? I think that adventure comes from the heart. It is an attitude. It is taking on something new and different with anticipation. It is going outside of your comfort zone and doing something unexpected. It is heading away from normal, not with reckless abandon but with zeal to reach new heights.
One early morning in June of 2015, I embarked on a great adventure when the plane I was on landed in Dakar, Senegal. I had never been to Africa. I had never travelled as a part of an education NGO. I had never left home for three weeks.
After a full day of overcrowded vans, overcrowded ferries, overcrowded taxis, overcrowded passport control offices with 10 overcrowded suitcases, we arrived in Bakau, Gambia.
That is where my adventure with the EDGE team and the adventure of 40 high school students intersected. As the students arrived to embark on a 3 day Educational Summit, they were bubbling over with excitement. They had been chosen to attend something that many of them had never even heard of before. They did not know what to expect, but they knew it was an adventure – it was new, it was opposite of normal and it would stretch them to reach new heights in their thinking.
In Gambia, many teens are unable to attend school, especially the young ladies. And in many families, working on the family farm is much more necessary than getting a formal education. But that is not because these young people do not have goals and dreams. It is that they lack the resources to make those dreams a reality. But for three glorious days, they were encouraged to share their dreams and embark on an adventure, at least in their minds. They shared their goals of becoming attorneys, journalists, nurses, actors, government leaders and restaurant owners. They cheered for one another and shared in each other’s successes. They took the initiative to present a cultural “talent show” for the team which allowed for a much better understanding of who they were and who they hoped to become. The teens learned but I know that I learned much more and found that there is a place in my heart for the people of Gambia. I was amazed at their warmth, their passion, their contentment, their hospitality and their gratitude.
This year, EDGE plans to launch out on another adventure into Gambia to allow another group of young people to realize a dream by participating in an innovative, entrepreneurial workshop.
But without you, this all may remain a dream. Would you consider giving to make this adventure a reality? Your investment could have huge impacts on the future of this generation in the Gambia, and the future of the Gambia.
Know of someone who might be interested in supporting this type of work in the developing world, or interested yourself in how you can make a real difference in the world? Please reach out to us to see the full scope of what this project will entail. Email kylie.barker (at) edge.ngo.