Yesterday we spoke with Terri Wingham about her journey of hope. Here is the second half of that interview. Enjoy!
What has been one of your favorite destinations or projects (or both)?
I will always have a big place in my heart for CCS Cape Town because it was the experience I had there and the beautiful children I fell in love with that healed me from cancer and put my dream for the Fresh Chapter Foundation in motion.
On my recent Adventure of Hope, I grew the most personally during my time with CCS in India. Working at Mother Teresa’s home for the mentally and physically challenged pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me see humanity in a different way. (Here’s a link to a Huffington Post article I wrote about my experience there). My time at a Rwandan Orphanage with GVN broke my heart wide open and has inspired a dream to adopt a child one day. And, my time with ProWorld Urubamba showed me how powerful it can be when you work on projects right alongside the people who benefit from them. The clean water filter project and cleaner burning stove project inspired me beyond measure and I give the ProWorld team in Peru huge kudos for the sustainability and ethical approach to their projects.
What advice would you give to a cancer survivor going on her first volunteering trip? Do you think there are any unique challenges she may face?
I try never to speak on behalf of all cancer survivors because the disease affects all of us so differently. But, in building the Fresh Chapter Foundation, I am looking for partnerships with volunteer organizations who can inspire confidence that the survivors will be well taken care of. Cancer can shrink someone’s world and shake their confidence. This is one of the reasons I have decided a group model is best and why I’m working hard at putting together a pilot program to take 8-12 survivors to New Delhi in February 2013 for a 2 week trip that will include volunteering, cultural exchange, and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the Taj Mahal. My hope is that in planning and fundraising for this trip, the survivors will feel a sense of possibility and accomplishment and that their time in India will shift their perspectives and give them the opportunity to think about what they want their fresh chapter back home to look like.
What is the ripple effect of volunteer travel in your life?
Volunteering Internationally has had a tremendous ripple effect in my life. It has made me a citizen of the globe, instead of a citizen of only Canada. Having the opportunity to spend time on 5 continents and volunteer in 9 countries, I have seen how much more alike we are than we are different. I have seen people around the world share the same desire for love and belonging and the same desire to live a meaningful life. Volunteering internationally has made me passionate about raising my voice for people struggling with issues of cancer, poverty, and a lack of education in countries around the world. It has also inspired me to help other cancer survivors experience the joy that can come from volunteering internationally. My wish is for each of these survivors to come home after their trips, inspired to give back locally or support international programs. My dream is that something as horrible as cancer can result in a global ripple of hope and new possibilities.
What’s next for you?
In addition to planning and getting funding to support the upcoming trip to New Delhi, I am writing a book, and working on a social enterprise model to help sustain the foundation in the long term. I’m also passionate about the challenges facing cancer patients in developing countries. So, I plan to continue traveling globally where I will build more partnerships with volunteer organizations both inside and outside the cancer space.
My ultimate goal is to raise awareness about the challenges of survivorship and give survivors an option for transitioning into a new chapter in their lives. I want to make sure no other cancer patient walks out of the hospital on his or her final day of treatment feeling alone and like the support has ended.