“It’s never too late and you are never too old to become better”
This is a motivational quote that I came across and right now as I sit and reflect at home after a truly amazing experience as a BECA volunteer it sums up exactly how I am feeling.
After a career of just under 40 years predominantly in the finance industry, an opportunity arose for me to take early retirement and to take stock. My working life had provided me with a wide range of opportunities, new challenges to overcome and at times had been rewarding particularly as it allowed us a family to enjoy a relatively comfortable lifestyle. At the back of my mind though there was always a sense of unfulfillment. Maybe I had chosen the safest path? I often wondered whether I had lived the life of my dreams. A voice going off in my head perhaps and it would be no surprise if many people didn’t experience the same feelings at some point?
Alongside my career, there had been times when I had found or indeed created opportunities to do something different and invariably this always came back to working with children. I quickly found myself enjoying in some small way being responsible for the happiness of so many others beyond myself. I found it an exciting world experienced through the likes of reading with children or indeed coaching in a sporting environment. I found myself wanting more and after retirement it felt like I had the second half of my life to explore all sorts of opportunities.
Perhaps it was a moment for me to think about what I had actually enjoyed rather than what I had achieved. I had always enjoyed and found great satisfaction from working with children and alongside that I had a real desire to travel more and to experience different cultures. A chance conversation with a friend who had volunteered with BECA only 12 months earlier had me completely hooked on the possibility of traveling to Honduras and volunteering at Summer Camp. The opportunity to explore, experience and to challenge myself with BECA was a test I just had to pursue and so the application process began!
Perhaps as you get older you find it easier to distance yourself from what other people think but I did face the inevitable “why would you want to do this?” “Are you having some sort of midlife crisis?” and indeed questions as to the wisdom of traveling to Honduras. The fact that none of these questions phased me confirmed what I already knew and that this was the opportunity for me.
And so to the BECA experience itself. It was everything I wanted and more. Truly amazing, rewarding and yes at times humbling. A group of people coming together with a real determination to create and make life changing differences. To play a small part in that was something that will live with me forever as will the new and beautiful relationships formed.
So……for anyone thinking about volunteering then, just do it and do it with the wonderful BECA guys out in Honduras! I am absolutely certain that these memories will never leave me. It truly was the best experience imaginable and has been and will continue to be a life changing experience for me. If you have the opportunity to do it then go ahead and embrace it all. I arrived in Honduras to meet what were essentially a group of strangers and I left with friends forever and hopefully having left a positive impression and those wonderful children. You are never too old to experience this!