#INDEVSpeaks: Meet Margaret (continued)

1) I think one of the biggest changes that I first noticed within the first few weeks was the dreads. What convinced you to get dreads?

I wasn’t even in the country for a month when I got them! I have wanted dreads since I was 13 years old but I grew up as a conservative Mennonite so it was never in the picture. I’ve wanted them for so long and now that I have them, I feel like it’s an expression of me.

2) I asked you to share a photo that holds the most value to you. Why did you choose this one and what value does it hold?

unnamed (1) This is Justine. Justine is a friend from church. She’s about 17 years old. Like many other girls, she’s a seamstress, but she is also illiterate. There were moments here and there when you knew she wanted to talk. She hadn’t been educated so her French was very minimal but we could still communicate. She was so open and it seemed like she just wanted to share it with me.  One day, she asked me if I could teach her how to read – and I agreed. I found it odd that she lives in a court with at least 7 literate people, of family and friends, but she asked me for help. However, the further we got into the studies, I assumed that she might have a learning disability. She’s very intelligent but the way I was explaining things wasn’t getting through to her. I’m not a teacher so I couldn’t identify what her weaknesses were so I couldn’t address it accordingly.

unnamedBeing able to witness how much she progressed during our lessons together and how significant of a difference it made in her everyday life was so meaningful. In between lessons, we’d also have some of the best (in both of our broken French abilities) heart-to-hearts. She was so open and willing for more – relationally and academically – it was such a gift. When I look at this picture, everything comes back.

3) How do you think your placement has shaped your perspective? What were you able to take away from your placement?

I know a lot of people say that the beginning of INDEV seems negative because development theories make it depressing. But I came back really encouraged. I found that there’s a lot of people doing what we do and they’re passionate about it. They want to see positive change. Yes, there can be a lot of negativity about development but things are changing. There’s a huge global team of us out there!

4) What advice do you have for the cohort that is preparing to leave in September?

There will be many slow days that will discourage you but don’t forget the amazing opportunity you have. You’re in a new place where you’ll grow as a person, as a student, and as a future employee. You’ll have a support network there and back at home who care about you and care about your future. Take this placement and make it into something special.


I’d like to thank Margaret for taking time out of her day and sharing about her experience in Burkina Faso. There is no doubt on my mind that this woman will go on to do great things for people – that which will go beyond the certification of her degree. If you would like to hear Margaret present her Capstone, she will be speaking at the annual Global Gala in Waterloo, Ontario on July 11, 2015. 


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