I’ve had the pleasure of knowing this week’s “Millennial on a Mission” for a few of years, and I’ve always admired her kindred spirit, huge heart and willingness to be so helpful to those around her. She recently was spotlighted in The Gazette for her volunteer work in Ghana, and will be returning to the country at the end of this month for a second time. The moments that she captured simply don’t even begin to express her gratitude for this once-in-a-lifetime experience, and with #GivingTuesday tomorrow, I thought it would be fitting to share her story.
I’d like for you to meet Quay Wilson.
Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Quay moved to Silver Spring, Maryland at the age of 12 and attributes the DMV for her upbringing. Before traveling to Ghana back in January, she was working towards her associates degree at Montgomery College, where she majored in Mass Communications with a concentration of Radio Journalism. “After returning from what was a life changing experience, I felt the urge to gravitate towards more community outreach work and decided to change my major to public policy,” Quay says. “It was without a doubt the second best decision I’ve made in my twenties. The first was deciding to go to Ghana, Africa.”
CC: What inspired you to take a missions trip to Ghana? What did you do while you were there, and what were some lessons that you learned upon touching down in Ghana? Were there any challenges that you faced while visiting there?
QW: I was 22 when I made the choice to volunteer internationally. I was watching an episode of Pretty Little Liars and one of the main characters Emeli had just returned from Haiti doing volunteer work. As a child, I always had goals to someday travel somewhere and volunteer. I would pray with my grandmother and always include a special prayer for the less-fortunate, the hungry and the homeless. I learned at a young age to care for everyone in the world, not just myself. Watching this episode of Pretty Little Liars inspired me, and I immediately began researching national volunteer programs. I’ve been extremely sheltered my entire life, never traveling beyond east coast, so me being the ballsy woman my mother has raised me to be I decided I wanted to go to the mother land and I wanted to travel with a purpose. I did more research and came across IVHQ, an affordable international program. I signed up to work at an orphanage during my winter break from school and the rest is history.
Ghana taught me to appreciate the things I’ve taken granted my entire life: a washer and dryer, a dishwasher, comfortable public transportation and hot water. These are just a few things I went without while in Ghana. I never realized how important each and every thing I used on a daily basis really was until I arrived in Ghana and had to go without it for a couple of weeks. Some people may believe an electric iron isn’t a big deal but after having to iron clothes for 40 children 5 days out of the week and constantly relight coal to operate a steel iron it became a tedious task. An adjustment, but to be completely honest if it didn’t offer me anything at all, it offered me a very humbling experience. To know there is more out there, yet remained satisfied with the seeds life planted for you. That’s really how you nourish a garden. I love Ghana, its culture and especially them for blessing me with so much insight on life and the way it is meant to be lived.
Quay will be returning to the same orphanage for a second at the end of December because she hasn’t felt the same peace she’s felt since returning to the states. More importantly, she’s returning to see the beautiful children that changed her life. “When I arrived in Ghana I planned on becoming emotionally unbalanced due to their situations, but I wasn’t,” Quay recalls. ” I thought without a doubt I would lose sleep at night thinking about the children’s stories but I didn’t.
CC: Why have you decided to return to Ghana for a second time, and what will you be doing this time around?
QW: I’ve decided to return to Ghana for two reasons. One, for the peace of mind it offered me the short two weeks I was there, and because I fell in love with the children, its people and the country. I learned so much about life during my short time there, and took full advantage of my days by starting them at 6 AM and ending them at 9 PM. I learned about a culture that I was completely unfamiliar with and I truly fell in love with my life. It was liberating. The children taught me lessons on appreciating simple things in life. I gained so much clarity during my first visit, that it would be crazy of me not to go back for a second time. Upon my return, I’m looking forward to seeing the children and being back in that peaceful state of mind. While I’m there, I plan to also visit some attractions such as Wli Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in West Africa and the Cape Coast slave castles.
To Quay, a “Millennial on a Mission” is a soul that’s pursuing their purpose — one that just doesn’t benefit themselves, but others as well. “I believe that everyone has a duty to fulfill for the betterment of mankind and I think “Millennials on a Mission” are the soldiers responsible for carrying out those duties,” Quay says. “I would like to think that I’m doing exactly what I was put here to do. The fact that I love children and my mission is to be an advocate for them is just icing on the cake.”