October 14, 2013

Attitudes, Gratitude and Interns



Today is Thanksgiving day in Canada.  Its never gets old –  a whole day dedicated to celebrating what we are thankful for.  For me one of the things I am thankful for is Christine – Freedom Tree’s first ever intern.  Part of Freedom Tree’s mandate is not only to do work in Developing countries but also to involve young people and provide them with valuable experience in a mentorship structure.  Below is a write up from her about her experience:



Being an intern for Freedom Tree…

What does it mean, what did I do, where does it go from here?

This summer I had the wonderful opportunity to be the first intern for Freedom Tree!  It feels special being the first :)

Being an intern looked like was me sitting in a coffee shop,  writing up letters for funding requests, updating our social media sites and connecting with people who are interested in what we’re doing.  Almost every week I would meet up with Tara, me thinking she was going to give me a list of things to do and in reality it came to be us discussing ideas of development, talking about birthing and which then propelled more action for us.  It was a special summer.  

An incredible part of this journey was the opportunity I received to go on a mission trip to Sierra Leone. Ah, the land of Freedom (or so I like to call it). The people there, everywhere you turn their catchphrase is ‘be free, be free’. O and I was. I even had the cool hairstyle to prove it. In preparation for going on this trip we got together every week, once a week for about three months to discuss what we’d be doing over there and what the heart was in going there.

Something that really sticks out to me from that time of preparation is the impact premature death has had in Sierra Leone.  12 years of a brutal civil war, high rates of infant mortality, and the second highest rate of maternal mortality in the world.  The heart of our July mission was to participate to see this trend reversed.  That is the reason I knew that I knew that I knew that I was supposed to be going on this trip. For you see I too once struggled with the threat of premature death over my life, with thoughts of suicide piercing me so vividly that I sometimes became immobile to its forces. And I know that I know that I have been transformed and have overcome, and I wanted to see others free too.

Oh, the miraculous things that happened in that land of Sierra Leone and are still to happen!  On our visit there many women gave up age old practices that have bonded them for so long to this curse of death and men decided to stand by them in this. For you see, healthy birthing is not just about the women it is about the men too and the community as a whole. There is a vision of mothers holding babies in the years, tears of joy streaming down their faces.  I spent a lot of my time playing with kids and being a kid with them. I discovered so much! It was such a joyful time!

Back home, now we get to help by giving of our time and money and standing by them in building schools and clinics. (That is part of the reason why I’m on my computer many days looking for funds).

Do I know where I’m going from here?  Not completely. I have it in my heart to pursue more work in development, but do I know what that looks like? Nope. And I’m totally okay with that. I’m still on that path of discovery. I am in school right now working towards a major in Development Studies which everyone in Africa seems to know what I’m talking about when I tell them that but there is very few people that know what that is here. It’s not working with the development of kids and it’s not buildings or city planning. Basically a simple way of putting it is that it’s the study of poverty and what the political, social, economic, sometimes psychological factors are in that and how to develop from there.  I’m also still working for Freedom Tree as well, still trying to come up with creative ideas for funding. And who knows maybe you’ll see me again one day in Sierra Leone.


The stories untold

the groans of the barren mother,

I hear them calling

the whispers in the darkness of the night,

I hear them calling

the crack in the heart of the orphaned child,

I hear them calling

the voices that have tormented and chained up,

I hear them calling

Calling, calling, calling

Break free! Break free!

Rise up from these ashes and find a new fire

one that will purify and renew

one that will bring life and new memories

one that will glow forever

Rise up o fair one, Rise up o one of worth

Rise up for your Daddy is calling you by name

Rise up, rise up.


Christine Thornton

Freedom Tree’s first ever intern.

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