I can’t remember having any particular expectation when I, together with my family, joined an IAAR walk (hike) many years ago. I was mostly attracted by the walk; I had hardly heard of the organization with the unpronounceable name.

All IAAR projects were presented in a central hall with beautiful posters and photographs: Congo, Tanzania, Papua New Guinea… the more I saw, the more I felt connected to the people in the pictures, people on the other side of the world who, like me, were in search of self-fulfilment, growth, and happiness.

At the time, I had not been involved in any PRH training for very long, but had already experienced that personal growth was a path that brought me closer and closer to my essential actions. To my frustration, it wasn’t a highway, but rather a forest trail with lots of twists and turns. But still, at a pace that I didn’t set myself, there was progress.

I felt a deep certainty that personal growth was the only way to permanently change the world. By taking control of our growth, I, as well as the people in the photographs, would improve themselves, their direct families, their larger families, their villages, their cities and the world. Not only spiritually, but also materially.

(It wasn’t until much later, when we were looking for a slogan with the IAAR working group, that someone phrased it very beautifully as: ‘Personal growth as an engine for progress’…)

This inner call was enough to get me involved with much enthusiasm. It wasn’t a task, it was a gift. Together we brainstormed to find ways to collect money for the various projects. We scraped together some money from our own savings. We had a meeting and decided that a new website was necessary, a site in five languages.

Making that website was also very satisfying. It was a creative and bonding process and the result was positively received. Later, the working group decided to also make a news flash. If I may be honest, and when I look at all the effort it takes, it can be really tedious work at times… It’s repetitive, often staring at a screen for hours on end and sitting still, for much longer than is good for me.

But then I focus on the content, on the people that matter. People whose mission is facilitated by what we do, at the other end of the world.

People I feel connected to. Simply because we are human, because we have chosen to grow. Growing as an engine for progress…

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