We chose choosing our own path as the name of our blog after a few attempts to reflect the idea that we want to do our own thing, both with the trip and more broadly with life.
Eventually Lauren’s excellent first suggestion of ‘mummy-and-daughter-round-the-world-travels-doing-it-our-own-way.com’ got shortened to ‘choosing our own path’ because that’s exactly what I intend for us.
My life has so far hardly been conventional – my family moved from the UK to rural Portugal (and it was *properly* rural back in 1989!) when I was 13, and I finished my schooling there before an attempt at conventionality (Economics degree followed by working in London as a Management Consultant) for a few years. An unexpected redundancy paid off my student debt when I was 26 and focused my mind on whether I really wanted to be part of the London rat race for the next 40 years. Nope.
I signed up for VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) and was posted to Mozambique, mainly because I spoke Portuguese already. This started a 15-year love-hate relationship with the country. Over that time I worked at grass roots level and policy level, for NGOs, private sector firms, the Mozambican government, and international donors.
I chose to have Lauren on my own because frankly, my choices of potential father material were always deeply flawed. A perhaps unconventional option, but one I believe paid off. We are incredibly close and she is just amazing.
Lauren has grown up surrounded by extreme poverty, and deeply aware of my desire to contribute to development for the less privileged. But she has also been protected by living in a lovely Maputo bubble of international schools, nannies and drivers. Many of her friends have swimming pools and huge houses. But even our small apartment was in a high-end area, right next to the president’s palace (which unfortunately came with the added ‘benefit’ of regular attempts at foreign national anthems by the military band when the president received visiting foreign dignitaries).
I want Lauren to grow up knowing she is incredibly lucky to have a family that loves her, enough funds to never worry about food, housing or school, and protection by a generally benign state by holding a British passport. I hope she will benefit hugely from this years’ trip, and it will help to forge in her the ability and determination to choose her own path in years to come.