One year ago today, I was sitting behind a widescreen computer, working as an Art Director for an advertising agency in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was one of my last days on the job after hearing of the staff restructuring the company was undergoing. Everything was about to change.

One month later I was saying goodbye to all I had known for the whole 24 years of my life; my bags were packed and I was on my way to the other side of the world for my biggest adventure yet. Was I ready? Only time would tell as I boarded my flight out of the country I called home.

So, without friends, mentors or any family close by, I arrived in Australia in April 2018, to look after the children of a hardworking single father. This was where the service component of my Award came into full swing as I was left in charge of keeping two very young people happy, healthy, safe and on top of their school work. In Johannesburg, I volunteered (and continue to volunteer remotely) for an organisation that cares for chronically ill children. Therefore, after 9 years at Marang House, with practical childcare and interpersonal skills gained over the years, I was able to run a household and help raise someone else’s children in a country far different from my own. It was a challenging yet rewarding experience that grew my passion for working with young people and helped me land my second job in childcare.

People at a conference

During this time I was able to take leave and attend Forum 2018 in Ghana; an event that saw International Award stakeholders, come together to discuss issues, celebrate success and share ideas to help make the delivery of the Award better for all. It was an absolute privilege to experience Forum and contribute in my role as an Emerging Leader.

My Award helped me become both adaptable to change and resilient when faced with difficulties.

As a team of Emerging leaders, we learned how the Award functions nationally, regionally and internationally. We also had a platform to have direct input in the direction of The Award by voicing our own opinions and ideas through meetings and workshops. One of the best moments of the entire event was the launch of #WORLDREADY – the highly anticipated campaign that celebrates Award participants and Alumni from around the globe. It was awe-inspiring to be reminded of the huge, international community the Award has created and how it continues to create common ground among young people from all backgrounds. By the end of the event we were sad to part ways but excited for the future; helping to share the #WORLDREADY message and serve our next two years on the International Council as #WORLDREADY Emerging Leaders.

Back in Australia, once my work contract came to an end, I found myself faced with a new challenge entirely; the 88 days of farm work required to extend my visa. My Award helped me become both adaptable to change and resilient when faced with difficulties. But, from advertising to childcare, would I be ready to work on a farm? To wake up at 3:30am for a 5am start? To work through the third hottest summer Australia has had on record since 1910? Was I ready to be the only woman amongst a multicultural team of men and carry a 15kg knapsack through wide fields of crops? Would I be ready to drive my team around on the utility vehicle and then operate a tractor? I knew I had my ‘toolkit’ of Award skills (plus a massive hat and heaps of sunscreen) so I set my daily alarm to 3:30am in preparation for the next 88 days.

Today is day 84 and I can proudly say yes!

I am not entirely sure what the future may hold but, from my Bronze through to my Gold, with my service to SAGAHA (the South African Gold Award Holder’s Association) and my experience on the International Council as an Emerging Leader, I can say with confidence, “I am #WORLDREADY!”

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