You get into your car. The windows are closed. Ignition has not been fired yet. Everything around you is silent, quiet, no one is asking, looking, judging, questioning, there is no noise, it is sterile. There is no rush. No one is giving you advise, no one is asking for suggestions. You are disconnected from every living organism. You stay in the bubble for two minutes. Everything is still. There is absolute peace. Have you experienced this? Isn’t it the most precious two minutes?
“I used to work in an investment bank in Australia. But I was unhappy. Everything around me was superficial, fake and unsustainable. I was always drawn to Central America, I had volunteered briefly in Guatemala. Every time I brought up this topic of quitting the bank and moving to Central America my family got anxious and upset. I was getting increasingly sick and was hospitalised more than five times in a matter of months. I had a feeling that this was a sign, that I needed to take the decision. I had to bite the bullet.”
I met Corina this week at a workshop organised by UNESCO in Rajasthan.
“So, I took the next flight to California, bought a car and drove down south. I drove all across Mexico, escaped corrupt policemen, thugs but persisted. No plans just plain guts. I reached Guatemala. I felt lonely, slightly anxious. I kept my resolve and drove. I reached Antiqua and as luck would have it, my car ran out of fuel and there was no gas stations anywhere close. It was dark. I was afraid. I was worried. I saw a man with a drum and a dog. He looked familiar. I had met him during my volunteering days. Was it him? Or someone else. He lowered his head, took a few seconds and said, ‘Corina, what the hell are you doing here?”
“Tears welled up in my eyes instantly. I was so happy seeing a familiar face. I felt this was a sign.”
“It was January 2009 and I knew this was it. This is where I begin my journey.”
Corina founded SERES an NGO in Guatemala to help youth become community leaders and change agents. Her organisation recently won the prestigious UNESCO Japan prize for outstanding projects related to Education for Sustainable Development.
I was moved by her journey and as a token of appreciation I gifted her the book “Countdown” by one of my favourte authors, Amitav Ghosh.
I am reminded of this quote by Amitav Ghosh from his book “River of smoke,”
“… an instance when Fate had conspired with Nature to give them a sign that theirs was no ordinary journey.”