By Suzanne F Stevens | February 8, 2017

simien mountains, ethiopiaTraveling through Africa for over a year this trip has provided me with more understanding to expectations of societies and how people interact with visitors.

Ethiopia is a country that vastly surpassed my expectations; it is breathtaking particularly in Mescal flowers season (Oct to Nov) when they cover the Simien Mountains. In between the beauty of the meadows and the peaks of the mountains we are reminded of the reality of Africa. Not poverty, but dependency.

As my husband, our tour driver and myself hiked to view the Blue Nile Falls, an easy hike following a well-marked path, we were bombarded by the request to have a guide. For this particular walk we wanted to enjoy exploring on our own. Regardless of our desire we were verbally attacked for not “supporting the local community” by not hiring a guide. The persistence continued.

Regardless of our declining another ‘guide,’ he insisted on joining us with the understanding that he would not be paid for accompanying us. As our journey continued, me now walking with three capable men, wishing there was just one, we came upon a mud patch. Another gentleman came what felt like behind a tree to offer his assistance. More than capable, not to mention well accompanied, I took him up on his kindness and took his hand while I crossed the mud.  As we got to the other side of the small patch, he turned to me and asked for a tip. Of course this will not surprise many. What may, is my response: “Thank you for your assistance. It is appreciated. It is always nice to receive kindness. Sometimes doing things just to be kind must be reward enough.”

On completion of our journey the gentleman that joined us for the walk with the agreement of not receiving compensation, turning to ask for a tip.

We could get into a discussion about poor people trying to make a living, but until you are in the situation that at every turn someone is asking you for compensation you can not appreciate the power of Nigest Haile’s, Executive Director,  Center for African Women Economic Empowerment (CAWEE)
words of wisdom to her daughters. (Wisdom Exchange tv – view interview

“Do volunteer work for your country. Everyone expects enumeration at a very young age. Everything is about payment. If we continue to have such a culture I don’t think we will have a generation of successors. My children are involved in many volunteer activities.”

What a mother says can have such an impact not only on the life of our child, but society as a whole. The messages we often convey will be dictated by our economic standing. However, no matter what our situation we need to encourage our children to be contributors to society. To participate by giving back to the vary place that provides them security.

As Nigest says, “even young people will ask for money to do a small thing.” What kind of behaviour are we perpetuating? Perhaps this doesn’t happen within a clan, or tribe, but if future leaders are to be created, should they not be people that give out of kindness rather than out of obligation or worse what they will receive as enumeration?

Perhaps, this is core of some of the leadership challenges throughout many of African countries.

Action: As a mother, have your children volunteer for a project they are passionate about. No matter what your economic situation, there is always someone better and worse off. Volunteering will provide a child or young adult with perspective and the foundation of generosity. With the skills they learn they will not be a burden on society but a beacon of hope.

Watch an interview with Modesta Lilian Mahiga she too talks about the importance of volunteerism for youth to differentiate themselves for employment opportunities. A not to be missed interview on Wisdom Exchange tv!


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About the Conscious Contributor

Suzanne F. Stevens, CSP, Conscious Contributor™ Cultivator
Social entrepreneur |International Speaker | Pioneer | Host |Philanthropist | Author

Lead tomorrow’s legacy today.

#YouMeWe Group of Initiatives | Cultivate, Celebrate, Co-create conscious contributions

Book launch coming soon: YouMeWe: lead tomorrow’s legacy today

2017 President Elect: Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS)
Awards: TIAW World of Difference Recipient for women economic empowering
*Accreditation: Suzanne is one of 61 Certified Speaking Professionals (CSP) in Canada and is in the exclusive 15% of speakers who have this designation internationally.


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