Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith
Working in a normal 9-5 job was never for me. You get to a point when you realise that there has to be more to life than doing the same thing day in day out. I used to work in insurance and finance. I worked long hours but the money was great. Lunchtime sport, after-work drinks, client functions, business trips away – I lived a nice life! But something was missing. What difference was I making? How was I contributing to society? The more and more I began to ask myself these questions the more and more I began to question my direction in life and the choices I had been making. Where was I heading? How was I going to get there?
Quitting my job and going to university was a huge leap of faith. I struggled the first year. I’d been out of school for 5 years and it wasn’t easy. I failed maths the first semester and seriously began to question my decision. ‘What were you thinking!’ rang out in my head as I stared at my exam results. But I didn’t quit. I took extra classes, I went to summer school and soon enough I began to enjoy university and even started to look forward to classes and lectures.
Fast forward 3 years and I found myself at the beginning of my honours year with another important decision to make. What research project should I choose? What was I interested in? What direction was I going to take? I had a choice between a welfare project with an experiment already mapped out, clear objectives and a substantial grant attached (always attractive to a poor student!) or a project working in Cambodia with cattle where I didn’t know what I’d be doing exactly, how or when I would go about it and whether I would even have enough money to get there! I was tempted to take the welfare project (safer option, less risk) but had a strange feeling of being at a crossroads and the universe telling me again to take a leap of faith.
Working in Cambodia alongside the ‘Best Practice Health and Husbandry of Cattle’ team was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Seeing a farmer standing in front of his forage plot ‘showing off’ what he has grown or speaking to a farmer who can now send his children to school instead of going out to cut grass are memories will stick with me for life. So much so that I’m back with the Cambodia team continuing my honours research and are set to working in this field indefinitely.
I’m excited about the future. I’m fortunate to have a wise and supportive mentor, great-minded and hardworking colleagues and a network of friends working in the field who I can always ask for advice and share thoughts and ideas with. International development is challenging, and it can be frustrating at times, but I wouldn’t change it for a second. Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith.