To be honest, I did not foresee our journey taking this unexpected turn. I was on a straight trajectory, I had plans and places to be. But life is like that. Everything seems fine and good until suddenly it’s not. Circumstances change so fast we don’t know what has hit us. We are left with its jarring impact, adjusting. Finding our footing.
Life’s detours are a thing.
When I look back at the past 3 years, two tragic events out of my control sent me down a path that I had not planned. In 2019 Ndara was running without its boutique, conducting private sales, with a smaller team and fewer products. It worked and I had no specific plans of changing it. I was on another path, pursuing another job, in another country, while simultaneously running Ndara.
In September 2019 my father suddenly passed away. My life took a detour. From being on one path, looking at growing somewhere and something new, I found myself on another path, quitting my job, abandoning my planned next steps to take care of my fathers business. This life shift suddenly had me with full focus back in Bangui and physically with the Ndara team every day of the week. I look back at this season of intense personal pain and grief, and I can see that the joy of creativity and the loving grace of the Ndara artisans was something that truly helped me through my personal loss.
Then, a came the pandemic. To say that the pandemic put a detour in all of our lives is not an overstatement. Airplanes stopped flying and I was, literally, stuck in Bangui. It was here that the dream to build the Ndara boutique came to life again. It had always been in the back of my mind, but had never been possible for several reasons.
Out of my fathers passing and out of the pandemic the Ndara team doubled in size and built a boutique that tripled the income of the artisans. The extra time we had on our hands meant we focused more time on learning new skills, and more hours during the week were dedicated to learn how to read and write. Margaret Fuller once said "today a reader, tomorrow a leader" and that is something that this period of time in our history came to show.
Meryse, Josiane and Nadia made incredible progress with their literacy skills and took leading roles in preparing for our boutique’s opening. Garnella bought two breeding pigs for her small farm, Vanelle taught her sister how to sew. Gorettie, Benicia, Omega and Jocelyne joined our team.
While the grief of having lost my father too early is still there for me personally, and while we all still grapple with the long lasting effects of the pandemic, we are also simultaneously witnessing incredible growth that came out of it. Growth, that would not have happened if life did not take us for a couple of detours. Here is what we cannot miss: detours are the path to growth.
I don't know what is going on for you right now, but here is your reminder to not miss the turn in the detour put in your way. While our human tendency is to view them as delays and difficulties, history gives us a more accurate perspective and teaches us how to grow in them.
Today is going to be yesterday tomorrow.
Thank you for being on this journey with us.
Charlotte and the Ndara team