How my first trip to Africa changed my life

Rotary members and Rotaractors took part in World Polio Day activities as part of the West Africa Project Fair.

Rotary members and Rotaractors took part in World Polio Day activities as part of the West Africa Project Fair.

By Shapreka Clarke, president of the Rotaract Club of Eleuthera, The Bahamas

After an 18-hour flight from The Bahamas, I finally arrived in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, on 19 October to participate in the 11th West Africa Project Fair. As I stepped off the plane onto African soil for the first time, I did not know the adventure that was ahead of me, the lasting friendships I would make or how my life would forever be changed. That first moment getting off the plane, I remember being very excited and a little nervous.

Through the sponsorship of the Rotary Club of Rancho Cotati in California, I was able to embark on this journey with 34 fellow Rotarians and Rotaractors from the United States and The Bahamas. The West Africa Project Fair, the primary purpose of our trip, gave our group an opportunity to discover the various projects Rotarians across Africa are undertaking. It also allowed us to form partnerships with projects we were interested in supporting.

While at the fair, I presented with Rotaractors and Rotarians from the Bahamas, California, and Yenagoa, Nigeria, about our joint Telemedicine Project. Telemedicine allows doctors from California to connect with doctors in under-served areas to consult on diagnoses and treatment plans. Despite the distance, doctors have consistent access to mentors and educational opportunities through telemedicine. Our booth raised awareness about the project and encouraged clubs across Africa to participate, while forming new partnerships with clubs in the United States.

This trip allowed me to better understand how important Rotary is in other parts of the world. I was given an opportunity to engage in field work in the local communities, create strong friendships with the West African Rotarians and Rotaractors, and participate in hands-on humanitarian and health-related work.  It was truly a life changing opportunity.

Read more about Shapreka Clarke’s experience on the Rotary Service Connections blog. Get more information about the 2017 West Africa Project Fair or contact

2 thoughts on “How my first trip to Africa changed my life

  1. Pingback: How my first trip to Africa changed my life | The Rotary Club of Carteret

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