DESIRE LED ME TO HAITI: A journey to Purpose!
Livvy Owen in 2012 with a group of EduHaitian Secondary School Students: Darline, Christella and Darline have now gone to be our first University students. Studying Nursing, and Business Studies. What a beautiful journey!
I remember the moment vividly. I was pacing around my apartment in the UK complaining. Everything was wrong. I couldn’t do it.
I couldn’t finish the assignment that had been tasked. I wasn’t good enough for any of this and it was always someone else’s fault. I had this belief that my words weren’t good enough or I was inadequate with the way I put sentences together.
I was 19, living on my own near where I had grown up. I was mid-transformation, turning my life around and experiencing the growing pains that came when I started to address every belief I though to be true about myself and the world.
I had been a reckless teenager. I was hurt, lost, sick, recovering. I had channelled that pain into numbness. I was adamant I had no purpose, no desire, no where that I belonged. I had spent a number of years enveloped in darkness, keeping my head above water by a tiny whisper.
I was studying to be an Early Years Teacher. I had ‘accidentally’ applied to the course, convinced they would never accept my high school drop out credentials.
I laughed at the irony of dropping out of school and claiming I would never step my foot back into ANY form of education, only to be applying to become a teacher. It was a twisted seal of fate.
They made an exception. I was in. I remember my interview. I rolled up in a big black leather jacket and wouldn’t take it off. They saw something in me and gave me a chance. I am deeply grateful for that day and those women.
When the course started the teachers nurtured me, loved me, believed in me relentlessly. I resisted a lot and would do anything to deflect the attention, despite it being the thing I craved the most. I couldn’t look them in their eyes when they told me I was good enough.
I would leave the room and secretly curse them for being wrong. I hated them for being so nice. It meant that I had to change. It was excruciating to be seen. I would think “soon they will find out that I am worthless and unable to write, read, speak properly, be here, be of value, be alive”
A big part of my training was to practice in Schools. Be around children. Show them love. Guide them to thrive. Create environments where they felt safe. Approve of them.
It was outside my own classroom that I started to open more. I noticed what it felt like to teach. I watched my colleagues pour love into the children. I would attentively observe and wonder if I had it in me to be that loving, or to let that much love in. Could I be that human?
Over time, day by day, I started to open. I noticed that I could love and be loved. I started to fill up my empty tank. I started to feel joy in my body. I began to feel my body and feel alive again. I began to practice speaking without terror that I was saying the wrong thing. I started to build amazing relationships with colleagues. I was becoming a young woman with a taste of purpose.
I followed the thread of what started to feel really good. Every day I became closer and closer to the end of this training. I did well enough to give myself the option to go to University if that was my chosen path, which I did years later, eventually studying International Politics inspired by my time in the field in Haiti.
It was a ginormous turnaround. I remember this huge lump in my throat as I started to realise I was good enough. Perhaps for anything. Exactly where I was. I had found something that felt meaningful and it had found me. Sometimes now I will look back at that time and do anything to feel the slow return of love in my body. I can easily take for granted how much I am able to feel now and forget the feeling of love entering an empty, hungry tank.
I started to understand that I had a story to tell, life experience, a big emotional range, awareness, humour, compassion, depth.
Teaching. Learning. Knowledge. Connection. Bringing out the best of the best in others. Training. Coaching. Self-belief. Knowing my value. Empathy. Humour. Tenacity.
So, there I am pacing my apartment 18 months into this training. In 10 minutes of complaining I am starting to chip away at the self-worth I had tenaciously built. Stuck in an old pattern. Heart contracting and jaw tight. The inner critic, loud and vulgar – reminding me why I should never have signed up to this. I wasn’t good enough.
The TV blared in the background. It was January 12th 2010. Haiti had been hit by a huge earthquake. The BBC was playing a 5 minute EMERGENCY UPDATE. Newsflash. Thousands suspected dead. Hundreds of buildings flattened. A figure that would tragically rise as the weeks went on. Haiti. A name I had heard and a place I had never seen.
I sat down slowly. My hands together making a tight fist. My throat was dry. I had never felt a feeling like it. As I watched the news this profound sense of grief came over me. I also felt this huge pull and connection to this place I had barely heard of. My heart was waking up.
I woke up to fragility of life, I woke up to the victim mindset I was locked into, I woke up to the idea of purpose, I woke up to the idea of service.
I felt called to go to Haiti. Not straight away. I didn’t have the money or the skills for immediate disaster response or the opportunity. Later in the year, I would go.
Everyone told me I was crazy. Rightfully so. It was an insane pull. I could not explain it. I knew this place would be a huge part of my life and I knew it would be about education: transformation and learning. I also knew there was no invitation to go. This was a choice that came with responsibility. Listen first. Do second.
For 8 months I hustled to raise money, complete my Teacher Training and getting my life ready. Ahead was an open road.
I fell in love along the way. He thought I was crazy and I shouldn’t go to Haiti. A dangerous place he said. We broke up suddenly right before I was due to leave and the heartbreak of that nearly stopped me from stepping foot in Haiti.
I spent a week in Miami alone and my whole body ached with pain. Old patterns came back. Not good enough. I was wrong. All my fault. Unworthy.
I was embarrassed to live out this dream when I felt like such a wreck.
I will never forget my older brother Sion calling me. I told him I going to fly to London and go to Haiti a week later once I had pulled myself together. You know. Manage the heartbreak. As I told him my carefully conducted plan he told me there no way. Not a chance I was coming home. I had come this far. No going back now.
He reminded me of the pull, everything that had led me there and who I was. My worth. Sometimes we need that. A reflection from someone we deeply love.
I got on that plane. What was a 4 week trip turned into 3 months. The right people crossed into my path. We had raised over £10,000 in London. It was a number way beyond our target. I quickly learned, and continue to learn, it is much harder to spend money effectively than it is to raise it.
I met many young Haitian women during those 3 months who had a desire to return to School. The education system had remained closed for months following the earthquake. Families that previously had the means could no longer afford school fees. Tuition fees are high in Haiti anyway. Overall it became a need we wanted to work with.
It was a fast learning curve. We had a fierce desire to invest our money + time into longer term support for Haiti’s youth. We believed in educational scholarships that were long term and a compliment to the short term aid that was in effect in Haiti post-earthquake. We wanted to support an already existing Haitian structure that was proven and working.
For me, it was clear, I was in for the long haul and that was final after meeting my amazing co-founder, Emma and our Haitian director Junie. Dr Junie Betrand, a Haitian educator and community leader, partnered with us immediately and we created an international non-profit EduHaitian that would fully fund the education programme of her Haitian organisation KoreTimoun.
Building EduHaitian, a Scholarship programme for School & University students in Haiti, has been a vibrant rodeo of trail and tribulation. Our work supports students in Haiti to find their purpose and live their dream. We support them for up to 18 years to go to School and University. All the way into their first job. It is incredible work with amazing results!
I would never have got through those early years of building a non-profit if I hadn’t been using the fuel of my earlier transformation. I had felt the bottom of the barrel where life felt bleak, soulless and directionless. I knew what it felt like to be blocked of feeling. Giving my life to something and following what felt true for me has kept me growing.
It has been 8 years since that moment in my apartment. Purpose to me unveiled itself. I heard the call and I listened. When I started to put my attention on the quality of my contribution and my relationships everything started to shift.
The questions I ask are, What is my life for? Who do I have around me? What do I need support with to make this happen?
If I overextend and ‘work’ too much and neglect my relationships, things don’t flow. It goes the same for the other way around. Connection + purpose go together in harmony.
A few years ago, I heard the call towards working with Desire, Relationships and having a more honest conversation about our Intimate lives.
I see a lot of us dedicate ourselves to our purpose and work, in neglect of a rich, intimate life and honest conversations about what we want.
I have a fierce calling to work with both and work as Relationship + Desire coach.
Pleasure is a vital nutrient to fuel our life purpose. I truly believe that.
Show up as you are.
Don’t wait to feel perfect and together.
The messier you are, the more you can feel and truer the response is to you call.
You are as you need to be.
AN EVENING OF PURPOSE
Join Olivia and Rachel for an evening of nourishment and heartfelt inspiration to unlock your sense of purpose for 2018.
You will be served three courses of delicious organic vegetarian food, plus a menu of insightful processes and discussion to reveal your unique gifts and heartfelt desires to guide your intention through the coming year. The evening will be held at Ray of lights stunning rainforest location in Bulli.
The evening includes:
- A three course vegetarian meal
- Organic bubbles
- A parting gift to remind you of your resolve