I once came across a story of a girl named Elizabeth who grew up in a socially conscious family. Most of the families in her Mercer Island neighborhood were no different. Each year her family would purposefully plan a weeklong trip that would not be a vacation for the family, but a vacation focused on others. She loved these family trips. They were different than going to the beach, swimming in the big condo pools, and running down the road to water parks.
Instead, these purposeful trips were full of the unknown. The trips made her feel a bit uncomfortable. When she expressed her feelings to her parents they said, “Your feelings are normal and expected.” It was all part of the experience that her parents desired her to encounter. They believed it was healthy to get their children out of their comfort zone. The trips took her out of her “suburban bubble”.
Beyond Good Intentions
These purposeful trips began at the age of six. They went on year after year. She was in Junior in High School. It was a Sunday night in April and the end of the school year was approaching. Her family sat around the kitchen table and started discussing ideas for the next ‘vacation with a purpose’ – the term my family used to identify these ventures. The proposals were:
- Help an orphanage in Mexico City re-paint their buildings
- Collect school shoes and baby clothes from their community to deliver to a poverty-stricken community in the Dominican Republic
- Work at the Startblok refugee camp in The Netherlands and teach English songs to children and resume building workshops to adults.
She never forgot that Sunday evening dinner table discussion as a turning point. The thoughtful conversation that led to her beliefs on ‘vacations with a purpose’ to change. Her mind suddenly triggered: “What if helping hurts?” The very thought of those words seemed like an oxymoron. She had already experienced 14 family trips. Was her questioning conscience wrong? Each adventure was carefully selected with the focus of externally considering others and their needs. After all these trips were all about helping. Should she doubt her parent’s good intentions behind these purpose-driven trips?
Sitting at the table, her gut turned tense and she began to sweat. Something inside of her heart and mind didn’t seem right and doubted her internal questions:
- What is the result of these 14 trips?
- Did anything change after we helped?
- Did the people in the Dominican Republic ask us for baby clothes and new school shoes?
- Does our helping reinforce the free and virtuous life our family believes in?
Suddenly she said, “Are we doing this all wrong? Mom and Dad, since I can remember, you always taught us by empowering us. You want us to flourish. Is what we are doing for others empowering or is it hurting? Are we transactional in our quest to uplift others?”
She continued: “In my sociology class we recently watched a video where a poor lady from Moldova defined poverty as:
“…We are cripples; we are afraid of everything; we depend on everyone. No one needs us.”
These were the very words that she couldn’t get out of her mind. At the young age of 16, she had experienced her mindset thrive when she was challenged to work for someone else's’ need.
Her neighbor had a long-term illness and couldn’t attend school. Every day she tutored her neighbor so that she would not get behind in school. It was the first time she experienced learning with a purpose beyond herself and they both ended up making straight A’s that quarter. She experienced fulfillment in her worthy contribution to her friend. She wished that she could give the same depth of life breathing empowerment to the people her family went to help.
Journeys of Two Different Worlds
There’s a connection with Elizabeth’s story halfway around the world from Seattle and a group of people in Shillong, Meghalaya. While we may not be dealing with extreme poverty, like Elizabeth we are asking important questions around human potential:
The team at Muezart believes we are the change agents for our very own culture. We believe change will come through a value based profitable business.
We believe business opens markets and builds the kind of structures that come around groups of people to develop their potential.
We believe all people have unique talent and resources. They might be hidden or untapped. Work can uncover hidden potential.
Epic Journey 1.0
How does Muezart discover the untapped talent and resources within our local communities? Epic Journeys or discovery trips. These field trips are filled with surprise because we never know what we will discover. Muezart is a small team of about a dozen local enthusiasts on a quest to discover how we will revive and regenerate our own people and land of Meghalaya. Most of the team has roots and a family connection to a remote village. Based on family connections or targeted resources, each journey launches out into a specific region and area of Meghalaya.
“Profit through worthy work”
Khrawpyrkhat Mynsong, at 21 years, lead the team on Epic Journey 1.0 He mapped out the 3-day journey based on his family connections.
Our mission on this trip was to go beyond the scenic beauty expeditions and discover “what’s brewing” in another region of Meghalaya. The team is equipped with tents, backpacks and walking sticks.
Hiking the Hills of Meghalaya
The Most Important Equipment Is Our Mindset:
Our headgear is curiosity and our tools are listening ears and observant eyes.
The Mindset Should Stay Focused On:
- Worthy work
Simply put: we are a conscious business looking for untapped potential. opportunities where worthy work can create a profit through business. Seeking to discover which communities are hungry to prosper, who want to create change. Communicating our message of worthy work that will last and grow and not subsidized work that will be dependent on others.
Epic Journey 1 (January 2019) was a kick-off expedition for a new team. We didn’t have any breakthrough discoveries. But we did get inspired by the local people we met along the way and that’s how the venture of Muezart began.