Annnd we’re back! Blogosphere, I have neglected you, and I’m sorry. My last two posts were snippets of guest posts so they don’t even really count! But what better way to get back up on that horse than to blog about one of my most amazing experiences of my life so far…a trip to RIO for Stop the Traffik‘s global gathering!
Actually, three of the most amazing experiences in my life so far have happened whilst I’ve been not-blogging. On September 16th 2013, I started work as No More Traffik‘s Development Manager. On October 23rd 2013, I said ‘yes’ to the most wonderful man on the planet who happens to be my best friend. And on November 17th 2013, I flew to Rio with my bud, Mel Wiggins. The past few months, then, have been a little crazy (in a most delicious way) and I have neglected blogging – so in the next few weeks, I intend to catch up on a few things here.
Today, I’m still processing all that happened in Rio – I haven’t even got through all of my notes yet – but am bursting to let you in on some of the experience. First of all, public thanks go to Stop the Traffik for their generosity in hosting us and to a private donor for covering my travel costs. Without these kind gifts, there is no way I could have attended the conference. So, here’s a first wee post. Warning: will contain MANY beautiful photos that MIGHT make you a little bit jealous. I’m jealous of last-week-me, too.
There were close links between the experience of Rio itself and the experience of the conference. Houses and buildings that are blue, yellow, brown, white, orange. Graffiti and detailed tiles EVERYWHERE. Noise that never stops: music, talking, shouting, fireworks, cars. Good, bad, familiar and alien smells. Mountains, colonial architecture, huts, trees, clouds, blue sky, scorching sun, rainstorms. People from Oz, Taiwan, NZ, US, the Netherlands, UK, India. Business, PR, intelligence, activists. An intense schedule. Learning, sharing, talking, thinking, dreaming.
We landed in Rio on Monday and met Esta from Stop the Traffik Netherlands and Ebeneezer who is coordinating anti-trafficking efforts on behalf of the Government in preparation for the World Cup in Brazil. After an adventurous (!) journey from the airport to the top of a hill, we arrived at the convent that would be our home for the next week. White walls and blue blinds, surrounded by palm trees, clean and simple on the inside, with a view over Rio.
That afternoon, we had a couple of hours before the first session began and ventured up to the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue.
The schedule for the week was intense with five sessions of over 2 hours per day: we were intent on making the most of the time we had together. We’ve shared the breakdown of the week here.
Mel and I stayed a couple of extra days to enjoy the city after the conference was over…after all, how many times in one’s life does an opportunity like this arise?
We sipped coconut on Copacabana beach…
Found Santa at Ipanema…
And took some time out back at the convent before we left as we realised just how huge our adventure had been.
I’m really looking forward to sharing with you some of the lessons learned. I have been deeply impacted personally and feel empowered and inspired to enter this next season of work. We have come back with exciting news for NI, but also with a sense of belonging to and ownership of the global movement of work to stop human trafficking.
Til next time, blogosphere…thanks for reading and forgiving my long absence!
Ps: Mel has also been blogging today. We’re going to coordinate our posts to cover a wide range of angles on our experience. Her first post is here.