“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped” ~Tony Robbins~
In the moment, I could not have known that taking a trip with Free the Children would unearth my passion for nutrition, but here I am six years later practicing as a Registered Dietitian.
The trip was to Kenya, and I was part of a group of 25 eager youth who were ready to see the world and to create change. I embarked on this journey expecting to make a positive difference in someone else’s life, to leave a small footprint in the world in which I live. What I did not expect was to have this experience shape me and my future.
Before this trip, I was ready to enroll in a bachelor’s program in kinesiology, with plans to become a physiotherapist. I enjoyed the sciences, but enrolling into kinesiology was not based on a need or drive to do so. I simply felt that it fit.
Then I found myself on the coastline of the Indian Ocean, witnessing the first drilling of a well for a rural community in the Maasai Mara. The celebration included music and dancing by the elders and youth of the community, where we were welcomed as special guests in the festivities. During the performances, a little girl no older than five walked up beside me in the crowd. She could not see over the crowd, so I took her onto my lap and we enjoyed the music together.
She was coughing. Her clothes were torn and she was not wearing any shoes. She was damp, and her eyes were yellowed. Her belly was distended.
Would she live to be an adult?
That thought struck a chord with me. I began to see my experience in a completely different light. I saw malnutrition in the eyes of so many of the children that I passed. I took note of the environment around me, one that was very dry and could only sustain a few crops. It started to click that food, health and wellness were interconnected, and I knew that I needed to learn more. I knew that nutrition education was how I was going to make a positive impact on the world around me.
With my education complete, my ambitions within nutrition have shifted, but my passion for creating change remains the same. My younger self figured I would get my degree, find a job internationally and help third-world communities much like those I witnessed in Kenya. What I realized through my education was that, in order to create change elsewhere, you first need to focus on your own backyard. Now, I work as an in-store dietitian, where I am able to work with the community and community organizations to provide nutrition education to those who may not otherwise have access.
I can honestly say that food is at the center of everything that I do. Food is fuel. Food is celebration. Food is work. And Food is health.
Rebecca is a Registered Dietitian living in Nova Scotia, Canada. In addition to being a total foodie, Rebecca is a recreational runner (her partner being her Husky, Molly), an amateur actress in community theatre and a budding entrepreneur.