I am a social worker.
I am not a business woman; that's just what I've had to become in order to achieve my dreams.
It all started when I was 12. My family went on a somewhat unconventional spring break to Ecuador. We saw both ends of the spectrum; from the wealthiest of the wealthy to the poorest of the poor. I'd never seen anything like it and for the next three years it slowly created a desire inside me to see and experience more. To learn more.
When I was 15, I convinced my parents to let me go to Nepal for a month. And then Ethiopia when I was 16. And then back to Nepal when I was 17. These trips shaped me and shaped my dreams and desires for the future. At that point it wasn't a clear dream. It was foggy at best. All I knew was that I wanted to be on that side of the world, working with others to help them achieve their dreams.
In 2010, at the end of my sophomore year in college, I went to Uganda. There was nothing particularly special that set Uganda apart from the other developing nations I had travelled to, with two exceptions:
1. I was exposed to new ideas and exciting possibilities in the NGO sector.
2. I developed relationships with several young Ugandan women and I made a promise to come back (and I hate breaking promises).
Number 2 became a driving force in my life. The young women I had met were about my age and, like me, they had dreams. Big dreams. Their dreams were to be independent. To be journalists and fashion designers and social workers. To be leaders in their communities. To help other girls who, like them, had been exploited as children. I wanted to work with them to achieve this. I wanted to dream big with them because if you can't dream big, why dream at all.
For the entirety of my Junior year in college I dreamed and researched and worked to transform this dream of ours into a reality. Finally, May arrived and I could go back to Uganda. During my trip there I adjusted my plan, added onto it, and in the end--with the help of a lot of friends--totally transformed it into a reality.
Incorporation occurred in the beginning of 2012 and 18 months later we received 501(c)3 approval. This dream I had harbored for years was finally a reality.
Today we're slowly growing. We have our first two beneficiaries, Sandra and Barbara, and we are looking forward to welcoming more in the coming years. Most of all, we are looking forward to watching dreams come true.
Why don't you join us in this journey?
Sarah-The Country Director
I have been the Country Director for Acacia Avenue Designs since June 2014. How did I get here?
It all started with a service trip. In 2008 I boarded a plane to the South Africa and the minute I landed I realized how passionate I was about working alongside others to create a world we all want to live in.Tutoring orphans for a day I turned to one of my educators and major supporters of my dream and stated, “I’m going to make it back to this continent”. There was just something about the community I was a part of that rallied behind positive change and laid all the hardships and joys on the table. Not looking for pity. But, looking for positive change.
3 years later I boarded a flight to Botswana for a semester abroad. In that first week I made a connection that would change the course of my life and help bring my passion for creating a world that we all want to live in to the forefront of my mind.
I met Meg Nelson. At the time she just had a dream and had kept a promise to return to Uganda and see the young women she had met a year prior. Meg and I sat on a bus and she told me her idea for a non-profit that would provide an opportunity for young women to become empowered, strong, agents of change that used their skills, intelligence, and independence to positively impact their community and the world. Instantly, I shared how my passion and her dream fit seamlessly together. [Really, how perfect is that?]
3 years went by again. I graduated with my psychology degree. Continued to volunteer with Victim Services in Pima County and got my first “real life” job being a care coordinator in behavioral health for children age 0-18. It became more and more apparent that affecting positive change to communities and the world from the ground up was my passion. Then, Meg called. And the rest is history.
This past year has been exhilarating and tiring. This past year has been fulfilling and filled with more lessons than I thought were possible to learn. This year has had its hardships. But, this year has also had so many joys [check out the blog to see all the exciting news we have to share]. And we are still not searching for pity. We are searching for change and being on the ground to make it happen.
Thankfully, I connected with the dreamer of this NGO and get to share my passion on this journey.
Want to share your dreams and passions and join this journey?