Comfort Zone

stephen - san diego, California
Entered on November 29, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe that every one should have a fighting chance at life and to achieve this sometimes you have to break out of your shell to really succeed.

Several years ago I decided to make a change in my life. I stepped out of my comfort zone and jumped into something that at the time I had known nothing about. And now, well now I cant see myself doing anything else. I was going to be working with bore wholes or more commonly known as, “Hand Pumps” in Malawi, Africa. My team’s specific task was to teach the locals how to repair and maintain their pumps without outside supervision.

Now in order for me to be able to take on this task I needed to do a few things that society or mostly my parents wouldn’t agree with. I needed to drop out of college for a semester. Then if that wasn’t bad enough I had to drive 5 hours back and forth to receive training for 6 months. There were times when I didn’t understand why I was doing this and giving up seemed all too easy. But I knew that I couldn’t go back to my old ways. I needed to follow this one through because I knew that the reward would be greater than any thing I could have imagined

As time progressed I remember vividly stepping off a 46-hour flight and into a land that I have only seen through pictures and videos. I saw a land that has been torn by poverty, famine, and countless political battles. The international airport that had been named after the most recent president was running rampant with thieves trying to find anything of value to make ends meat. Then as quick as I had been rushed off the plane I was being herded into a customs line like cattle.

Now talk about a culture shock, I was staying on a college campus that had running water, electricity, and a 10ft wall that was guarded by 24-hour security. I tried settling in to the local dormitory that the college had set aside for my team. It wasn’t a smooth transition for me. Besides stiff beds and malaria medication that didn’t work I just couldn’t get over the local mosque that began their sermons at 5am every day!

Well as time passed and against all odds my team was able to get out there and tackle 5 broken hand pumps. These pumps supplied clean water to over 5000 people. I couldn’t believe it we could handle everything from rusted pipes to high nitrate levels in the water. It was an experience that I will never forget for as long as I live.

I know now that my decision to step out and tackle something new was the greatest decision I had ever made. I truly believe that sometimes you just have to break out of your shell to really succeed in life.