Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Finding my Dorothy

If you ask members of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) to explain who Dorothy is, you would get a very different answer from each person. This is because Dorothy means something different for each member. Dorothy is the figurative person that EWB works for in Africa, the person that keeps us accountable and always questioning the decisions we make and the actions we take. Dorothy is the person that drives us to carry on in our work, and motivates us to push for a better world where she is able to reach her potential. One volunteer might say that Dorothy is a vulnerable African woman stuck in the poverty trap who is doing her best to take care of her family and survive in this world. Another would say that Dorothy is a little boy in a rural African village trying to get through school so he can support his family once he is educated. Dorothy is not one single person but is a concept that drives every volunteer within Engineers Without Borders.

The reason that my blog is entitled Finding my Dorothy, is because that is exactly what I am set out to do this summer on my volunteer placement in Burkina Faso. At this point in time, my Dorothy, my motivator, is the dedicated members of EWB that work tirelessly to make the world a better place. I am inspired by my friends and co-members in EWB to do the best work that I can to promote global citizenship in Canada and reduce the gap between Canada and the developing world. Although I am greatly motivated by these fantastic people, it is the African heros and “development champions” as EWB calls them that I will look to for motivation this summer.

To share a quick Dorothy story from a friend of mine, Florin who is currently working in Ghana: “I was sitting on a bus on the way to Tamale a few days ago and I looked out my window and we were driving through the plains, it was getting late, there was nothing around, and then I saw one single woman in the middle of this place that was nowhere, carrying water for her family. I just thought "Dorothy!" ... then a white streak in the sky grabbed my attention, and I followed it and turned by head all the way around and saw the most beautiful postcard African sunset, pink sky, clouds on fire, trees in silhouette, and my Dorothy that I had just found. And I just felt like "this is exactly where I belong and I want to do something big, real big, and I know I will… these moments feel magical”

As I read this story from Florin I knew exactly what he meant, and I can’t wait to experience a moment like this myself. I too want to accomplish something big, and I want to experience the magical feeling that he spoke of.

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