2017 – a year that was

Here I am on a snowy, icy Bowen Island, taking stock of the last 12 months and fully appreciating how charmed my life has been in 2017.

Photo credit: Rob Severin | https://www.instagram.com/robrainforest/

Besides calling Canada home for 20 years now, I spent much of the year travelling the length and breadth of Sri Lanka, working with some of the most resilient people that I have met.

I wasn’t meant to be in Sri Lanka at all actually.  It being a tropical hot and humid country filled with scary bugs and animals, it would never have been a top choice of mine to spend a length of time in.  But things happen for a reason.

With a profound sadness on leaving Nepal in October 2016, and some trepidation to committing to be in Sri Lanka for the following nine months, I needn’t have stressed at all.

My time in Sri Lanka ended up being a defining moment in my life.

I love this photo of the BIZ+ team dressed in red for International Women’s Day 2017

The people I spent time with, the work I did through the VEGA/BIZ+ Program, the experiences I shared with so many … every little thing really just renewed my sense of feeling in every moment, I was where I was meant to be.  I bet there are not many of us that can say that with confidence.  How blessed am I eh?

I ended the year by accepting an award presented by VEGA  on behalf of the BIZ+ team across Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan small business owners who trusted me, who opened their minds and hearts to greater possibilities.

These photos are my last meetings with two of the four businesses I worked with in the north and east of Sri Lanka.  A lot of hard work achieved but always with humour.

It was a tad daunting for me given the award ceremony was in the Senate Meeting Rooms  on Capitol Hill, Washington DC but it was made a little easier knowing my pal Jacqui was by right my side!

News of the award ended up causing quite a stir including here on Bowen Island where Meribeth Deen, Editor of the Bowen Island Undercurrent was quick off the mark with an article sent to press on the night of the award ceremony after a long-distance phone call from Bowen to DC :-).

I headed back to Nepal twice while in Sri Lanka, first in February for Nikita & Binay’s wedding – a five-day extravaganza where friends Katrina, Cathy and I were treated like family throughout the entire celebration.  Blessed again.

Binay and Nikita, on their wedding day. February 14, 2017

And the second time in June, en route home to Vancouver, I caught up with my Nepali friends, cooked Sri Lankan feasts, visited Mankamana with Prajwal and delivered a couple of workshops.

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Needless to say, upon return I immediately dove back into volunteering on Bowen – doing the promotion for TOTI’s production of The Importance of Being Earnest which was a ton of fun!  And I have taken the Chair of the Bowen Island Arts Council Board for a one year duration while the Vice Chair is being trained up (right Rob?!).

All in all, an epic year for me.  It is real good to be home on Bowen.  I’ll be visiting family and friends in Ireland & the UK in January before I start another work contract in February.  I have a few plans flying around to maybe downsize …. who knows what else is on the horizon?  But one thing I know, live continues to inspire me.

Be all you can be in 2018!


About Kate Coffey

After 30 or so years in the investment management industry, 2013 saw me turn my life up-side-down, making my way first to Nepal, then Bangladesh during that first ‘year away’. The year took me on a journey I did not expect, had me fall in love with Nepal and its people, and become inspired at the work of Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) located in Bhainsepati - 2 hours east of Kathmandu in the Saanga foothills. Since 2014, I have returned to SIRC numerous times, working closely with the folks there in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes. In the past two years, my work in Nepal has expanded to the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation www.bomkarlsson.com and the Spinal Cord Injured Network Nepal. In Bangladesh I marvelled at the strength and resilience of marginalized women who have the courage and audacity to break the rules and make a better life for themselves and their children through microfinance programs with BRAC. 2016-2017 saw me embark on a totally new experience in Sri Lanka, a place I never would have chosen to end up in. It’s the 40C+ heat, big humidity and tropical snakes & animals that scared me! But I ended up love love loving! my time there, working with predominantly Tamil small business owners in remote villages in the north and east of the country, trying their best to recover their businesses and the lives of their employees, after decades of a civil war. My time in Sri Lanka made me realize my hard-earned business skills and experience can really be put to good use! The work the BIZ+ team and I did there ended up earning me International Volunteer of the Year Award in December 2017, presented on Capitol Hill, Washington DC no less. I am currently home on Bowen Island, in the west coast of Canada, shoring up my finances before I head off to who knows where, for my next expert volunteer assignment. This blog initially started out as a travelogue of sorts to keep friends and family worldwide updated while I was off on my travels in 2013-2014. Since then it has morphed into a life story of the many places I have lived and worked and of the wonderful people I have met along the way. I hope you enjoy.
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3 Responses to 2017 – a year that was

  1. Mick Canning says:

    That was quite a year! Happy New Year, Kate.

  2. Stan says:

    And you continue to be an inspiration to many of us.

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