An Oath to Honesty

I’m promising to myself and others to tell the truth about my experiences. I will keep my feelings and emotions while traveling raw and authentic. I’m taking an oath to honesty. This blog post isn’t soft, it’s not exciting, and it’s not visually appealing.

All too often we see travel bloggers on Instagram or Twitter take the perfect mountain-bound sunset picture or the underwater scuba-diving sea turtle snap with the caption about the journey… or the destination (does it matter?). We see first class plane rides and lobster on a cruise ship and call it an adventure.

What about the mission trips and the saviors of the world? We see classrooms and long walks carrying water bottles and wearing broken down tennis shoes and think “hero.”

I’m not down playing these things, both scenarios have tremendous value in everyone’s life. But let’s not do it in the name of a “journey” or an “adventure.”

I crave knowledge, I crave wisdom, and before today, I thought that I craved adventure.

This morning at 9 am a driver picked us up from the ICIPE Guest Center and we began the forty-five-minute drive to the airport. This was the first time I saw the heart of Nairobi in the daylight. In a chaotic roundabout we drove under a bridge. In the midst of cars and people and traffic and the occasional herd of cattle I laid eyes on a child. She was sitting with her knees up to her chest. She had a bucket by her bare feet. Before I could tell much else about the young girl a big bus cut in front of my vision. By the time the bus had passed so had she…

I began this fight against hunger after seeing too many statistics about hungry and illiterate children in Guatemala, and then Pakistan, and then Sierra Leone, and then Ethiopia, and since then my research has even gone home, to Nebraska; and finally, it has reached Kenya. But here I am – Kenya. Where I visibly looked hunger straight in the eyes of a child. But it gets worse. In that moment I immediately knew in my heart and in my mind there was nothing that I could do for that little girl.

If I began this in the name of adventure, I must change paths. No one could carry this passion in their heart in the name of “adventure.” This passion could take me anywhere in the world. Because hunger is everywhere. But the places I may go and the pictures I may get to post on my Instagram are not worth looking at another face that is screaming hunger.

Since that encounter early this morning I have unpacked my bags in the Guest Center of ICIPE (the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology) in Mbita. I’ve had more than five hours of travel time to consider my personal fight against global food insecurity. Why am doing this? Why am I making life decisions for the purpose of feeding people, feeding the world? Why am I after this career and lifestyle?

It turns out, it was never about me anyways. I remember clearly now. It’s in hope that any small contribution I may make in the length of my life may remove a child, or two, or five, or five hundred from the scenario I witnessed today. I stepped onto this path knowing that in my heart a child born in the United States, although far luckier than that of others, is worth the same as a child born into malnutrition elsewhere.

Please also note, there is hunger in the United States, and I am aware. Name a county in Nebraska, the heartland of our nation, and look it up. You will find food insecurity. Trust me, I’ve looked.

So this may not be a pretty fight. This is not the dream-like adventure scene that we see on our timelines. But this fight against hunger – it gives me purpose, it gives knowledge, it gives me wisdom. In this testament to honesty I’m redefining the journey, at least what it is to me. Truthfully, I can’t think of a more noteworthy adventure, than the adventure that ends hunger.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Greg Mortenson says:

    Thanks Cheyenne! This is beautiful and powerful. The raw words and emotions are so important. I sometimes use a quote, “In order to know and understand poverty, you have to touch, smell, taste, feel, see and hear poverty – poverty can’t be solved from a think tank in DC or lab in a university”. That’s what you are doing with food hunger and empowering women in agriculture. Your courage and your dream to help alleviate food hunger and empower women in agriculture is big and bold – and your experiences in Kenya, South Africa and beyond are a great foundation for the change you will bring to humanity. Asante sana.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cheyennegerlach says:

      Wow, great advice and perspective!


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