Just three months after starting her business with ASEA in 2016, Janne Harild decided to join a service expedition with the ASEA Advancing Life Foundation to aid families in Mexico. Janne lives in Denmark and realizes how fortunate she is to have been born into a prosperous and peaceful country where citizens have all that they need, including free education, health care, and a robust social network.
“The expedition was a way to help people in need, not just by donating money but by working side by side with the locals to understand their experience,” says Janne, “It was important to me to witness their way of life, listen to their stories, and hopefully, give them a new feeling of hope for a better living.”
In Mexico, Janne helped build water cisterns, chicken coops, and mixed and carried buckets full of concrete. She loved meeting and playing with the local children, having fun with them despite not speaking the same language. The trip made such an impact on her that she decided to join every expedition hosted by Advancing Life in the years following.
In Ecuador, she helped move stones from the river and drove wheelbarrows full of concrete for the foundation of the new Inta-Kara Advancing Life Center. When she went back on the second expedition to Ecuador, she helped build walls at the local school as well as fence off the land and dig drains around the new vocational school building.
By the third year in Ecuador, the expeditioners focused on the kitchen facilities and Janne helped drain a plateau of land where a sporting arena was being prepared for building. All of the draining work was done with picks and shovels, something Janne says was made difficult by extremely big stones throughout the area.
The Work Continues in Cambodia
In Cambodia for the 2020 expedition, Janne was excited to participate and help with a totally different type of service work. She helped fund the building of water wells for families in need and renovate, paint, and build walls in several schools. She also helped assemble newborn kits for mothers, filling them with new clothes, diapers, and other equipment. Then she aided farmers in planting kitchen gardens with spring onions, chilis, and other vegetables.
“My favorite part of all the expeditions is the people I’ve been able to meet and get to know,” says Janne, “Their happy faces really show the impact we can have just by serving others. They had incredible kindness, hospitality, and gratitude for everything we did for them. It was worth every hour of hard work we put in to make things a little easier for them.”
Janne will continue to join and serve as an expeditioner as long as she is physically able because she believes in the work Advancing Life Foundation does for folks in need. She has already signed up for the 2021 expedition to Cambodia and looks forward to continuing the work there. She is grateful every day to be a part of the foundation, both as a donor and a volunteer.
“I’ve learned from these service missions to live my life in a more present way,” says Janne, “Every new day I start with gratitude because I don’t take anything for granted. I try to explain this to my friends when I describe what these missions have been like for me. We should show much more gratitude for our lives instead of focusing and complaining about the little things.”