My African Dream This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

July 5, 2008
Ever since I can remember, I ­always wanted to go to Africa. When I was little it was that mysterious land across the ocean where people ran free, far from the confines of sidewalks and imposing laws. It was a naive idea, of course, and a very large stereotype, but that was how my fascination began.

Africa became an obsession, and I dreamed of the day when I would join the Peace Corps and go to the land I’d only visited in my imagination. Until this past summer, I had always just ­regarded this dream as something that wouldn’t come to pass until the distant future.

But then, last year, the founder of a group called HEART (Health Education Africa Resource Team) spoke at my school. Miraculously, they offered me an opportunity to fulfill my dream and travel to Africa to help others in need. Initially I dismissed the idea. My parents aren’t rich, and I knew a plane ticket to Kenya would be pricey.

Some time passed and visions of Africa ran through my mind until ­finally something in me clicked. I decided that I was going to Africa if it cost me an arm, a leg, or both lungs. I was willing to give anything to go.

To pay for the trip, I worked at Carl’s Jr. nights, weekends, and any other hours not taken up by school, making a little over minimum wage until the week I boarded the plane to Nairobi. By the end, my social life was almost nonexistent, but that didn’t ­matter. For once I took my fate into my own hands.

With my best friend by my side, I walked boldly onto Kenyan soil. We delivered medicine and supplies to AIDS victims, played with kids in the children’s cancer ward, visited orphanages, and learned about a world ­vastly different from my suburban ­hometown.

The most rewarding part was when we traveled beyond the smog and crowds of Nairobi to the rural village of Machakos. For three days I had the ­opportunity to speak to the whole village, teaching them about AIDS and other diseases. I also talked with a group of girls my age about rape, sex, and AIDS. It was eye-opening to learn how many rapes occurred in this quaint-looking village. Many of the girls thought AIDS could be spread through sharing clothes or even hairbrushes.

It is hard to write this essay without rambling on with innumerable details. The important fact is that this trip is no longer only inside my head. It was a dream that became a reality. I made it happen through perseverance and determination. What makes me proudest, though, is that this trip proved I can and will do more. One day I will join the Peace Corps. I will travel the globe and make a difference in the world, whether for one person or one hundred. That has always been my dream, and it is becoming a reality, one step at a time.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

Join the Discussion

This article has 1 comment. Post your own now!

dixie6061 said...
Aug. 8, 2008 at 4:39 pm
Great to hear of someone following through with their dreams.
Site Feedback