When I turned 30, as a present to myself, I quit my job.
It’s not that there was anything wrong with it, in fact, I loved it and had great colleagues and amazing experiences. It just wasn’t what I had always dreamt of being involved with: international development.
Something about milestone birthdays makes us pause for a moment to take stock of what we really want to do with our lives against what we are actually doing with them. Without such assessment I would perhaps still be floating through life (unfulfilled) and without knowing what I know now, which is that if you have a dream, regardless of whether it works out or not in the end, you MUST ABSOLUTELY GO FOR IT… because, maybe, just maybe, you might get lucky like I did.
After a few days of bouncing between panic and elation, I came across an advert for a job that sounded PERFECT for me… so much so, that I remember saying to my husband that they should have just written down my name in the Job Description and be done with it. It was a job with Twin Trading, which is a development through trade NGO that is really one of the pioneer organisations responsible for the emergence of the Fair Trade movement in the UK and beyond.
I cannot begin to describe how bad I wanted the job and how much I over prepared myself for the interviews… Incredibly, I got it.
My dream came true.
I know now that it’s fundamental to strive for a job you love and to work with people who share your dream because of the huge amount of motivation, positive energy, camaraderie and mutual respect and support that you will enjoy. Under those conditions any dream can thrive, and it’s not to say that the work somehow becomes easy (it doesn’t!)…but believing firmly in why you are doing it, makes it worth it.
During my time with Twin I’ve had many incredible experiences and met such inspiring and visionary individuals, but one of the fondest memories I have goes back to a certain Friday afternoon when there was a bit of a dark cloud around hanging in the office… perhaps we’d had a bad meeting or received bad news, I can’t quite remember, but we were all feeling quite discouraged. Then, we received an e-mail from one of our associates, Richard Hide, who had recently made contact with a group of women who were growing coffee in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Richard described in his trip report how many of the women were widow victims of the recent conflict in the region, who were growing their coffee and huge personal sacrifice and putting their lives at risk trying to cross lake Kivu with their coffee in order to access a market where they could sell their crop to feed their families.
It was such a powerful reminder of why were all sitting there, pouring all of our energy into selling, fundraising, and yes, battling the politics that exist everywhere, that I remember feeling so enormously uplifted and energised that whenever I have days like that I always think of lake Kivu, smile and get on with it.
Richard’s work in DRC has been very successful, and I think perhaps, one of Twin’s greatest achievements and it now needs our support to take it to the next stage.
A seven day fundraising marathon called Run Across Congo will take place next week. An all-women team will run seven marathons in seven days in the high-altitude and mountainous terrain along the shores of Lake Kivu. The Run will be followed by the first ever specialty coffee cupping competition which will bring together both growers and international buyers to taste the specialty coffee from across the country.
All funds raised will go directly to support women in the region through programmes that create access to knowledge, land, income and healthcare, enabling them to run their own lives and businesses.
They will also support a hospital that treats victims of sexual violence in the town of Lemera. Rape is used as a weapon of war in Congo and there are many women in need of help who often travel several days on foot to reach the hospital.
They will also support the Virunga National Park Fallen Rangers Project, which works with the widows and children of park rangers who have been killed defending the animals in the park from poachers.
Finally, the Run will support Twin’s ongoing programme of work to enhance female ownership and participation in coffee through grassroots workshops with men and women.
Please find below links to more information, and more importantly to how you can donate. Any amount, however small, can make a difference.