When I was about 15 years old, my mother asked me to meet with an extraordinary woman with a remarkable name – Syrtilla Kabat. We talked for awhile about life (mine, hers, my mother’s, my father’s), and at the end of our discussion, she said “Janaki – your are a citizen of the world!”
In large part, this was prompted by the obvious and superficial facts: I was born in London, England, to an American mother and a Sinhalese father. I have lived in London, Sri Lanka, and in many disparate parts of the United States. On the other hand, I really have lived just about all of my life in the US, I don’t speak any languages other than English with fluency (I can’t in good conscience count my school-girl French, my brief study of German in college, my forgotten childhood Sinhala, nor my current attempts to learn Hebrew or Swahili – at least, not yet!!) – so, on a practical level, I don’t think the claim to “World Citizen” is entirely legitimate.
However, recently, I have been travelling a great deal (and look forward to more international adventures). Mostly in Africa, but also a return to Sri Lanka after 35 years absence (!!) to get reacquainted with paternal relatives there, and for my sister, and our families, to meet our father’s family of origin. In Africa, I have had the good fortune, through work, to visit South Africa, Uganda, and Kenya, and have been honored and blessed to have the opportunity to participate in setting up clinics for HIV/AIDS care in those countries, where the need is so great.
And, with the internet as an increasing presence in all of our lives, aren’t we all “world citizens”?
With those thoughts, I will start this blog, with hopes that at the very least, I can fulfill requests from some of my family to share my experiences in Africa. It may grow beyond that, or not. Who knows?
Watch this space to find out…..