Why travel made me a social entrepreneur

Me on my first memorable journey to a different reality

Me on my first memorable journey to a different reality

We are madly preparing for our trip to India next month to meet our producers, and I have become buried in an avalanche of lists: passports, jabs, visas, grumpy bum medications, DEET spray (or as we call it in our house  F*** off spray, seriously been to the West coast of NZ?  The bugs there bring out a fair tirade of foul language), and lists for grandparents on taking care of the children, (includes a detailed  pictogram of how to work the telly). However I had time to reflect on the great gift and burden that travel and immersing yourself in a world of strangeness can be.

Today I met with Rakesh, who along with being an whiz accountant, business planner and strategizer, grew up in India. He told me a little of his story,  it involved a not untypical Indian childhood, which flows between poverty and good fortune as the great rivers of fate and luck and chance do their work. We talked about how in a country where there is no safety net in place, so many sink so easily to the ocean floor and how hard it is to get back to the surface. We talked how in New Zealand, and many developed countries, we perhaps think less about what  role luck really plays in our happiness, success and well-being because we mostly (and I won’t get into the policy issues that need work here) don’t need to rely on luck  to just be OK and eat.  It is travel that opens our eyes if we allow it (and it certainly did mine) to this reality, and once opened it is hard to look away.

For many people that start social enterprizes, in their story somewhere will be a moment in time,  travel out of their country, their life, their comfortable space that is a key feature.  A journey that takes them to another person’s reality, and a deeper understanding of what really creates and sustains our own reality and well-being.

So as I embark on another journey of my own, with all the fears, discomforts, anxieties and excitement that go with that, I am thankful for the luck I have experienced in my life of being born a woman in New Zealand, and all the opportunity that has afforded me. Including the opportunity to travel and really understand the good fortune I have, and that others do not, and try to do something about it. I hope that we can bring back the essence of that story on our return (and I really really hope our bums remain happy in the process!).

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