Believe in Your Dreams, Creativity and Passion

Believe in Your Dreams, Creativity and Passion

I was so excited about my first trip to Africa: Senegal and The Gambia. In hindsight that trip ultimately led me to create Love Travels Imports. Witnessing a mother’s love for her children expressed through her handmade clothe bags had a huge impact on me. Also, seeing the thirst and hunger for knowledge in a child’s eyes moved me.

One day on the trip, the group on our bus was waiting for a ferry. While waiting, I wandered around the dock doing my usual seeing what I could see.  One of the women had a vibrant, colorful selection of handmade quilted bags. I was surprised that she spoke beautiful English in this French-speaking country. She shared that she taught herself to speak seven languages. Her customers came from all over the world. If she couldn’t talk with them, how could she sell her wares? She was a businesswoman. She was a single mother and caring for her children was her priority. Also, she had to pay for school for her children and it was mandatory to pay for school uniforms. They did not have a social safety net in Africa. In those African countries, education is not free. People must pay for their children to go to school and to pay for school uniforms.

Love In Action.

Many family and friends requested souvenirs. Each person wanted a unique memento that was Africa. I had a list and was intent on getting the “right thing” for every person. Handmade items were what I was interested in. I was on a mission for high quality, beautifully crafted gifts that reflect the local culture.

 

So I developed the practice of searching beyond the typical. Before my trips, I research the places within the country that are known for something special or unique; the available art galleries; and artisans that are doing something to positively impact within their community.

 

On that first trip to Africa, I traveled with a travel agency that had over 40 years of knowledge of the continent. Instead of going on the trips arranged tourist tours, I chose to explore the place one-on-one with Harold, our tour guide. We had a bodyguard who was a national sport figure as we navigated the community to various artisan workshops. His knowledge came from the relationships that he developed from dozens of visits to the country.

Love in observation, then in action.

Before the trip, it was suggested that we bring practical things (such as toiletries and clothing but no candy) to give to people in need that we might encounter during our visit. There was one young boy who tended to follow our group from place to place offering his services to help us. I will always remember the intelligence in his eyes as he seem to absorb every word, every lesson he observed from watching us. We were his classroom. That morning that he wore one of the t-shirts that I had given away made a lasting impression on me.

Love wasn’t just about me, it was my inner circle and others human beings who could use an advocate.

Yvette JenkinsComment