IWTC recently talked with Linda Higdon, Champion of Global Women and Tour Host of Global Heart Journeys
IWTC: Global Heart Journeys is doing something new. What is it?
LH: We are creating women-only tours where our guests personally meet women shaping change in contemporary Kenya in rural villages, tribal communities and even in shanty towns. A lot of us like to travel, but few trips offer this kind of direct personal time with our global sisters.
IWTC: Tell me your story
LH: It all started about 15 years ago. Despite my training — a degree in classical piano and being a published artist — I met a Kenyan woman and we became steadfast friends. That one friendship transformed my life. Then, I started working with women across the globe in the developing world and war zones. Now, I love giving American women the same transformative experience. That idea grew into Global Heart Journeys.
IWTC: What got you interested in Africa?
LH: Back then, my husband and I took our first trip to Kenya as part of a “mission in reverse” trip. It was all about listening to learn from those in the middle of the AIDS pandemic. It was my first experience in a developing country and it was transformative. Even though I had no global experience, when I got back I knew I needed to do something and for me, it was all about the children..
IWTC: What was the precipitating event that caused you to start Global Heart Journeys?
LH: A number of years ago, one of my husband’s colleagues called to say that a couple from Meru, Kenya (Mercy Chidi Baidoo and her late husband) had come to the US because their community was ravaged by AIDs. They were in the States on a one-way ticket, had left their full-time jobs, and were looking for those with open hearts to help them reach the hundreds of AIDS orphans there
She and her husband came to our home and within minutes I realized they lived next to one of the orphanages we visited the prior year. I took it as a powerful sign that I was supposed to meet Mercy. For the next 6 weeks she and I opened doors to AIDS donors, international experts, conferences, and donors. The thrill was working together, two global sisters! The work we did together laid the foundation for Ripples International which is now one of the most successful children welfare operations in East Africa. We had no idea that’s where we were headed, then. She reaches thousands of kids and just won a landmark case for girls in the High Courts. Amazing!
Our passion is building relationships and personal connections to women igniting change. It has taken me 15 years to develop those friendships and now we take adventurous and caring American women who would love to meet them.
IWTC: What’s your favorite thing about your tours?
LH: We learned that it is good to step outside our comfort zone and say yes, even if we are uncomfortable. Additionally, we hope whoever goes on our trips becomes excited, refreshed, and inspired to see the world anew.
My favorite thing is to see the excitement of our travelers as they step into worlds and places they never thought they would experience. Also, with a woman’s eye for beauty, they see village dance, indigenous artistry, majestic wildlife – it’s an upbeat experiential trip.
WTC: Why do you continue to do this work?
LH: Women across the globe face a lot and it’s time we know our global sisters, to learn from them, exchange resources, and see what’s possible together. Few people talk about what a thrill it is to engage with our global sisters. But the heart knows! Imagine, 15 years ago I took my first trip to Kenya and now I can say I’ve been part of helping thousands of chidlren’s lives.
IWTC: What is Global Heart Journey’s Doing now?
LH: We created the first tour for February 21, 2016 – March 7, 2016, and it sold out! Due to popular demand, it looks like we will be hosting another tour from July 10 – July 26, 2016.
We are working now to spread the word to those women asking themselves, “what’s next for me?” knowing they are talented women with a ton to offer. As each woman travels with us, she does her own internal work to see how the experience fits into her life and what questions it helps her to answer. The Kenyan woman and children are over-the-top excited and ready to celebrate their arrival. We stay at beautiful lodging and eat well on this trip. I’ve learned that I need to stay balanced and refreshed each day to do my best work.
We hope your readers will join us or give us a call at +01 262.742.2064.