Welcome to part two of our Ripple Effect interview with Anna Strahs Watts, blogger, gluten free baker and avid traveler. To learn more about Anna and her amazing adventures, visit her blog A Girl and Her Backpack, where she chronicles her experiences overseas and how they have changed her perspective on the world in which we live.
Welcome back to our interview series, The Ripple Effect. The Ripple Effect explores the emotional impact of volunteer travel and its lasting effect on people’s lives. Today we’re speaking with Anna Strahs Watts, blogger, baker and avid traveler. Anna sold the gluten free bakery she built from the ground up to go on a month long volunteer trip to Bagamoyo, Tanzania. Her blog, A Girl and Her Backpack, chronicles her experiences overseas and how they have changed her perspective on the world in which we live. Please check back in tomorrow for part two of our interview with Anna Strahs Watts.
There is a close relationship between environmental conservation work and helping people. In many cases, like that of the Galapagos Islands, the restoration of habitats and rebuilding of populations leads to an increase in ecotourism that benefits a local region economically. In other cases, conservation directly impacts a community’s ability to find food, to farm, and to enjoy their own backyards. Conservation also has a watershed effect… literally. As habitats are cleaned up, the entire ecosystem improves, and that includes fresh water sources. Polluted bodies of fresh water harm humans just as much as they harm animals. If a community is located on the seashore, deep sea conservation efforts often have an immediate effect on the shallow fishery. More healthy fish means more food for humans, and it means a healthier economy to boot. The food chain is a complex system. When it is disrupted at any point, that disruption has a domino effect down the chain in both directions. Conservation projects teach us that humans are part of that chain. We suffer when it is disrupted too.
There was a time, several years ago, when I didn’t have any money. I was just out of college, didn’t have a job, and was trying to pay rent, student loans, bills, and to eat (if there was anything left). It was the first time in my life that I felt the real stress of poverty. It could have been worse—I had an education—but I couldn’t find a job and didn’t know when I would. I was two months late on rent and looking at eviction, desperately trying to sell everything I owned to raise the funds. Then one morning I woke up and couldn’t walk. My leg was swollen to three times its size and I was in incredible pain. After years of ballet spent abusing my feet, I’d neglected to care for the blister on my heel, and now it was festering. I knew I needed medical attention but didn’t have money, let alone insurance. Lucky for me, I found Dr. Bob.