[Loving Africa 1] Dream a little dream – To-Go or Not-To-Go

My name is Queenie. I am 26 years old and I love traveling.

I have lived in Hong Kong, Australia, France and Mexico. In the past few years, I have traveled to Malaysia, Central Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, Los Angeles, Myanmar, Tibet, Cuba, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica…

Less than 5 years since graduation, more than 15 professional exams, I can almost call myself an associate actuary. Yet I am very different from a typical actuary.

I am a risk-lover. I love adventure. I love traveling.

I believe travel makes one modest. The more one travels, the more you will see what a tiny place you occupy in the world. I continuously dream a little dream to see more of this big great world out there.

I decided my next adventure would be Africa – wildlife safari, Sahara deserts, sand dunes, tropical rain forests, big cat stalk, pygmy hippos, fabulous festivals, irresistible music, the mysterious world of masks and secret societies. The mosaic of African people whose histories are epic and whose daily struggles are similarly so.

I also became very interested in a new subject called micro-insurance. Micro-insurance first emerged in the late 1990s in the context of international development and microfinance. Against a backdrop of the microcredit movement, micro-insurance was singled out as much needed financial service to allow the poor to gain access to credit, to support the viability of credit providers and to protect the productive assets of the loan taker. In the years since, as it has become a regular part of the drive for financial inclusion. Africa being the poorest continent on earth made it one of the best places for learning about micro-insurance.

I may not have known where Togo was but Togo choose me and I knew I was To-Go. Almost immediately after sending through my resume introducing myself and my intention of volunteering in Africa for a few months, I received a response from a senior actuary based in West Africa. I have since learnt that this actuary was an executive director of “Actuaries Without Borders”. She welcomed my skillset and have since introduced me to a new business wonderland of micro-insurance in West Africa.

To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries. Indeed, as I was packing to leave on my adventure to West Africa, those around me became concerned about my safety (editor’s note: parents excepted) and my next three months in one of the poorest regions in the world. Alike to skydiving, although one may know that such activity is highly regulated and the risk of accident is even lower than taking a hot-air balloon but your heart will still beat that much faster as you get on the plane. Yet once you dive out, you will be in love with “flying” freely in the sky. This is the same as taking out a new step out of one’s comfort zone.

“To travel is to take a journey into yourself.” Stepping out of the plane may not be easiest, yet I know I will never regret my first journey into West Africa. Allow me to also take you on my adventure to the home of African landscapes of our imaginations and inhabited by an astonishing diversity of traditional peoples – Togo in West Africa.

街上商販 Hawkers in the street