The Story I Can't Share In Public

A chance meeting on the side of the road led to The Adventure Project.

I was bouncing along a muddy unpaved road in Liberia when suddenly, a woman jumped in front of our car, waving desperately. We slammed on our brakes.

The mom looked like she was carrying a baby, wrapped in a light blanket. But as we climbed out of the car I realized the baby was actually a toddler, maybe two or three years old. The child was severely malnourished and so frail she couldn’t lift her head or talk.

From her mother's arms, she only moved her two large eyes. They darted to each stranger standing in a circle, speaking a strange language.

Turns out, this mom was speaking French because she was actually from Burkina Faso. She crossed the border into Liberia and kept walking. For three days she walked in search of help, carrying her child the entire way. She saw us in the car and thought we might be health care workers.

It was heartbreaking to tell her we weren’t.

Someone in our group knew of a clinic nearby and pointed her in the right direction. I looked at the mom's face and saw only worry, exhaustion, and resolve. I was trying to process how one walks for three days straight. She carried no bags or water; just her daughter.

I remember getting back in the car thinking, ‘What am I doing with my life?”

I had become a “humanitarian” because I wanted to help people. But at that moment, I have never felt more like a failure.

Later, we heard from the health clinic that the mom had made it. But her little girl did not.

This event happened over a decade ago. But I can no longer share this story out loud because I always start to cry. Maybe it’s because I’m a mom now; I have a baby and a preschooler. Carrying my kids has added weight. And I would walk to the ends of the earth for them.

This story is the reason The Adventure Project was founded.

Flying over doctors and humanitarians helps (it does). But true impact at scale starts when you train people to become heroes in their own communities. Heroes like health care workers, living and working in their neighborhoods.

Women are still on the road, but now they're walking to work. They're taking their freshly grown produce to sell at the local market. Or securing their newly sold stoves onto the back of a pickup truck. Instead of sick children in arms, moms are carrying their bags of health supplies to check on a newborn neighbor.

Women will always be walking. But our supporters are changing what women carry. And that makes all the difference.

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