Category Archives: African Adventure

The Ultimate Travel Companion: Volunteering — By Kweli Kitwana, Guest Blogger

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  • For years, I’ve dreamed about taking a volunteer vacation.
    Volunteer vacations are called many things, including service vacations, international volunteering, volunteer travel, working vacations, gap year travel and volunteering abroad. No matter what they are called, I always knew this was something I wanted to do. Going someplace with a unique purpose is just in my blood. Don’t get me wrong, I love exotic vacations on beaches, enjoying fine dining and taking in the local sights. However, experiences of cultural immersion is an exciting honor aligned with my personal need to get involved, connect with people and hopefully, leave a footprint in someone else’s life.

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    Kweli Kitwana

    West Africa has been on my travel bucket list for some time.  I have always looked to Africa for personal reflection and creative inspiration. For my entire life, I could never pass up the opportunity to immerse myself in West African culture, spirituality, politics or arts. Knowing I’d end up there at some point, I wanted to choose my path to get there carefully.

In about a week from now, I am leaving for Ghana.  Recently, I heard that SISTAWorks was seeking a volunteer willing to go to Bogatonga, Ghana (and, surrounding rural villages) on short notice for about four weeks. SISTAWorks, a nonprofit, has as its mission to see more of Ghana’s adolescent village girls through high school, instead of languishing as menial laborers in city markets. Empowering these young women is an essential step in breaking the cycle of poverty in rural African communities. These girls would not be able to attend high school without the scholarships and support they receive directly from SISTAWorks.

Students at work in Bogatoga, Ghana

Students at work in Bogatoga, Ghana

I will be meeting these girls and their families, selecting the Scholars for the upcoming school year, providing training, and collecting/distributing their education supplies and resources to them. It’s a huge undertaking, but I’m up for the challenge.

This opportunity has been “in the works” for some time– you see, life’s opportunities are always waiting for us.

Over 10 years ago, I bought a beautiful quilt from Baba Blankets to support an African Collective, thus giving economically marginalized girls an opportunity to change their lives via education. While on a business trip in Denver, Colorado, I attended the Annual African American Art Fair. I was especially drawn to a beautiful exhibit of colorful quilts with the most familiar patterns. E. Aminata Brown, the vendor and Founder of Baba Blankets, explained that these quilts “are the exceptional work of our girls in Ghana seeking to advance their opportunities through sewing and education.”

It was this experience which inspired me to revisit my own family’s tradition of quilting — particularly my Grandma and Mama’s loving creations handed down and gifted throughout the years to our family and friends. This interest eventually led me to quilting and designing over 300 fabric designs celebrating African American culture, tradition and history, along with the creation of my online business “African American Fabrics.”

Well, here I am — full circle… I am now, honored to spend a month volunteering with Sista Works. If you know me, you know I am filled with the enlightenEd possibilities of this gift. The gift to learn from and dare to receive continued inspiration, while making a sustainable difference in girls lives is an opportunity of a lifetime.

Please take a moment and visit their website. Hopefully, you will even be inspired to make a donation to them!!
www.sistaworks.org

Or, you can help support my volunteer trip specifically by donating to my Go Fund Me campaign.

www.gofundme.com/KweliToGhana

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