I’m not the type you’d expect to travel to Africa. I work in a world of taffeta and tiaras, not famine relief and AIDS awareness. I’m pale white. My passport stamps are limited to European favorites — Madrid, Paris, London — not the countries that require vaccinations for life-threatening diseases. But I’m going to Liberia this Christmas, and you’ll find out why over the course of my next few posts.

Some quick Liberia statistics: Armed conflict, HIV/AIDS and other diseases have orphaned an estimated 230,000 children in Liberia. Half a million children do not attend school. An estimated 40 percent of all girls and women have fallen victim to abuse. But numbers are rarely the way to the heart, probably because it’s the mind’s job to numb us to them…how else would we function day-to-day if we really felt what those percentages mean?

I’m a wordswoman. Stories impact me more than statistics. Words and photos can communicate the struggles of one person, one family, or one village in a way a massive number cannot. Words tell us how one person can make a difference. 

I’m leaving NYC to go to Liberia for one week. There are countless people living there for months, years even, and leaving a more significant impact than I ever will. But this blog is written by and for the unlikely adventurer — you can be one with me. Who cares if you know more about TMZ than any NGO. This blog isn’t meant to be a downer, nor is it a humanitarian’s diary. It’s a hopeful reporter’s notebook, blog-ified so that we can figure out together how my/our generation — who were just babies when Band Aid asked America, “Do they know it’s Christmas?” — can connect with the children, teens, and twentysomethings who are the future of Africa. You can meet them here on my blog this Christmas, and follow their impact on the other 364 days of the year.