It was one very special day. That day in January 2020, was a moment when the All Out Africa staff team created their very own adventure to change lives. With the majestic backdrop of Wide Horizons Mountain Retreat and the embracing sounds of nature, 25 of us gathered to smile at past successes and to imagine an even brighter future.
While fifteen-year anniversary T-Shirts reminded us of All Out’s heritage, it was the next three, five and fifteen years that were our focus for the day. As a facilitator, it was my privilege to help everyone work out how international volunteering, educational and welfare activities (the original inspiration), could grow together with the more recent and more financially successful tours’ side of the operation. There was a win-win waiting to be found and we had a day to find it.
We worked hard, laughed, dreamed, schemed and as the Eswatini sun was dipping below the horizon, the team had come up with 31 wins-wins. Integrated tech, buddying to see how other teams do things, sharing skills, quality uniform kit for volunteers, parties to celebrate and more. The enthusiasm was at the top end of the scale and everyone was ready to make it all happen. All eyes were on those sunlit uplands – hands on the wheel and off we go.
But on that special day, the threat of the Covid tsunami which was about to engulf All Out Africa and the globe was, so it seemed, well beyond the horizon. But it wasn’t. Given barely a passing mention in the opening session as one of a number of possible ’threats’, the pandemic was already closer than any of us dared to think.
A few months after that special day, like a truck stuck in mud after persistent rains, everything slammed to a halt. I know it has been a long and painful grind through the pandemic. But right now, mid-2021, with some first signs of recovery appearing, the spark is again firing in the engine, there is some fuel trickling into the tank and the All Out Africa wheels are beginning to move.
The call of the majestic Swazi scenery and the embracing sounds of its lush nature is as compelling as ever. The dreams distilled in January 2020, resting during the pandemic, are now coming back to life as the need for All Out’s social programs grows. That day, I found my place in the All Out Africa story which was a special and memorable moment in my adventures in Africa; I imagine there will be more. I know too that there can be a place for you in that story where you could create an ‘adventure which changes lives’ – which could be your life and the lives of others whom you may meet one day on a dusty Swazi road.