Where's Allie?

Lend me your eyes, I can change what you see



That’s something people say here – it means ‘if God wills it’. I’m not a religious person, and I don’t really mean it, it just becomes a habit, something you add at the end of a sentence. I’ll see you tomorrow, insh’allah. We’ll make it to the party on time, insh’allah. I do, however, believe that everything that happens, happens for a reason.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been struggling to make a pretty difficult decision (and I want to give a shout out to those of you who’ve been giving me advice). Since I’ve been here, my internship has turned out to be nothing like what I expected. I came here to gain professional experience, planning on helping malian youth start their own businesses. It turns out that there was some confusion between what Quebec wanted me to do, what Bamako wanted me to do and what I was actually expecting to do, and it resulted in me spending 4 weeks feeling pretty useless.

Those of you who know me know that I can’t sit still – I always need a project, something to keep me busy. I got more and more frustrated, and the tension started to build between me and my bosses – I felt like I wasn’t being listened to, and they felt like I was being disrespectful. I know that I’m impatient and as much as I hate to admit it, I know that I like to have things go my way. Maybe a calmer or more reasonable person would have made something out of those four weeks, but I was just too busy being frustrated to work anything out.

Add to that a couple of personal issues that are going on (I’ll bore you with those another time), and you find me, a week ago, emailing my project supervisor and asking to terminate my contract. She told me to take the week off, and that we would talk about it today, to determine if there was another job I could take here, or if I really wanted to leave, I could.


Boys and girls, I’ll be back in Ottawa at some point next week.


For a week now, I’ve been struggling with this decision, and I’ve spent most of my time feeling stressed out and scared. I feel like I’ve disappointed my employers, myself, and all of you guys. I came here with such great hope, I was so excited to leave, and it’s all coming to an end, much sooner than expected. So many of you were so excited for me, and I feel like I’ve let you down. Some of you might be judging me, maybe you’re thinking that I’ve given up too easily or that I’m being unreasonable. Don’t worry, I’ve been judging myself enough for all of us this past week.

Back to insh’allah. I was talking to a Malian friend on Friday, when my staying here was still a possibility. I said “Sure, I’ll give you English lessons if I stay, insh’allah!” And he told me that that made no sense. He said that we are the ones who make the decisions, and while god (I prefer to think of it as fate) might have a role to play in what happens, we are ultimately responsible for the decisions that we make, and we have to live with them. We might be ten feet tall one day, and fall down the next. He said that even when you’re at your smallest, you have to trust that you’ve made the right decisions, and that by living honestly and trusting in yourself, you’ll get to be even taller, in the end.

Par of me is disappointed to be leaving here – I’ve started making friends and I’m understanding more and more of the local culture, and there’s a great expat community. However, there are some things that I need to be in Canada to take care of, and I’m happy with the decision that I’m making. I’m listening to myself – it turns out that this isn’t the right adventure for me, not right now. I’m going to go home, take things slow, figure some stuff out, and keep trying until I feel tall again.

I love you all and I’ll see you soon


6 thoughts on “Insh’allah

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  4. Salut Alex,

    Tu ne devrais pas être si dure avec toi-même. Tu as donné 4 semaines de ton temps, pendant que plusieurs personnes n’auraient pas fait ce geste (y compris moi). Tu as un grand coeur et tu trouveras un autre moyen d’aider ce monde. On fait une sortie de girls quant tu reviens! 🙂


  5. Alex ! Bonne chance avec ton retour. Prend soin de toi. Ton blogue est riche en introspection. Sois fière de toi et comme tu dit, chacun est maître de son destin et nous devons assumer nos décisions et ne pas regretter. Si nous l’avons fait, c’est parce que c’est nous voulions au fond de nous. Bref, tout sera parfait et tout s’arrangera (oups… mais est-ce que tu n’as pas trop entendu cete phrase au Mali, il fallait bien te le dire pour une dernière fois :P)

    Allez, Courage,

  6. You rock Alex! Gimme a call when you get back, we drink and be merry together.

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