Looking Forward And Back, How Our Family Is Shaped By Africa.Kristy Carlson
This week I stood on it. I walked the piece of land that will become the realization of a dream, a dream to see Burundi coffee farmers not just surviving but thriving. A dream that involves connecting buyers in the “west” DIRECTLY with the coffee farmers of Burundi. A dream steeped in vocabulary like “community” “skills” “full bellies” and “transformation.” All the reasons we moved here in the first place. We know that this will only work if it’s not “our project” but something the community values deeply. If this is really about change, it needs to be a group effort.
My 6-year-old played in the river right near a group of men who were washing their clothes on the land. I watched him and stood under the Eucalyptus trees to escape the heat with my crying three year old son. He was clinging to me along with all of my camera gear. Not my finest moment by the looks of it, but inside I was was smiling. I couldn’t help but remember all the times I’ve wanted to LEAVE this place. Every moment that “getting out of here” felt like the best option for our family. Every moment when life in this part of Africa felt too hard. Too intense. Too complicated. Of course, I started to cry just like my 3 year old son was doing. Life here still can be all of those things, but this place is also responsible for shaping our family in ways that I am so grateful for. It’s shaped us in ways that are now such a part of me that living with our new shape feels just as easy as breathing in and breathing out.
The last one and a half years adjusting to life here (and we still don’t have our heads screwed on straight most days) have been the most difficult of my existence, hands down, but they have also been the greatest. I have never felt like a bigger failure or more out of place EVERY DAY than I have felt living here. I think it’s true what people say, “You remember the hard stuff.” It’s true, because the hard stuff shapes you. How it shapes you, I believe, is your choice. I feel grateful that our sons are old enough to see this part of the journey, the part where we begin to help people in a way that makes a real difference to both them and us. I know that the hard stuff is not just “over” now that we own a piece of Africa. Our workload is actually quickly approaching the “impossible” level. I will say though that this piece of Africa has given me roots here in a way I didn’t expect. I feel connected to our dream more that ever, especially when I place my feet on the land it will be formed on.
Read more from Kristy at Long Miles Coffee Project . For daily updates of her adventures in Africa, be sure to follow her on Facebook, Twitter and especially Instagram. To buy Burundi coffee that aids this project, visit Dogwood coffee and order online.