It took me six months to finally plan our last June three-day trip, and I can’t help but worry about when I’ll be able to afford the next one. My kids are incredibly understanding, but I realize I can’t stretch their patience too far. We only travel abroad about once every four years, and that deadline is approaching in a few months, coinciding with the renewal of my current contracts and project deadlines.

To be honest, these past four years have been emotionally and professionally challenging for me in Madagascar. My health has suffered, relationships strained, finances have hit a critical point and opportunities especially from the public sector (the most gratifying ones for social aspects) have been nonexistent. We’ve only been hired for private sector commissions, although I am grateful for that but I’ve come to terms with it. I’ve made peace with not actively/directly participating in my homeland’s development and instead dedicating my skills to support other endeavors.

One day I’ll have to be honest with my kids about why I endured so many sacrifices and challenges only to turn a blind eye to mediocrity and waste around me. Only to them I’ll need to explain why I gave up on striving for excellence on a larger scale and why I decided to silence my voice and distance myself. I didn’t expect to find peace this easily; I used to be critical and vocal about my thoughts. Now, I simply observe, move on, and focus on my own affairs.

On a positive note, over the past decade, I’ve trained around 30 people who are now thriving professionals and business owners. Most of them have achieved careers and incomes they could only dream of when we first started working together. While they might have succeeded on their own, joining the firm undoubtedly eased their journey.

We are just one piece of a much larger collective effort, and it takes a strong mortar to consolidate and sustain the whole structure. In the grand scheme of things, even though you might frequently be reminded of valimbabena, what truly matters is how you treat yourself, your family and your community. It’s the small everyday triumphs and the often-overlooked, humbling steps that will make a significant difference in the long run.

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