Agnes van ‘t Bosch

(Niger 1978, 1980; Cameroon 1982)

It was very intense, both culturally and intellectually, and it changed everybody. I was just shocked to my core I guess and I wanted to do something.

By Kate Wilson

Agnes van ‘t Bosch is one Crossroader whose life has truly been shaped by her experiences with CCI. Her involvement with the organization began with two months in 1978, when she lived and worked with youth in Niger.

It was an experience that allowed her to see what life could be like outside of Canada. She saw the reality of extreme poverty and inequality. She also saw how natural resources could be managed effectively and how a strong sense of community could exist in a small rural village that did not have much.

“It was very intense, both culturally and intellectually,” she says, “and it changed everybody.”

As a result of that time in Niger, van ‘t Bosch thinking about many things, including herself and her own culture, differently.

“I became very passionate about inequality and about social injustice,” says van ‘t Bosch. “I was just shocked to my core I guess and I wanted to do something.”

She would go to Africa two more times as a Crossroader — once more to Niger in 1980 and then to Cameroon in 1982. She has also continued to volunteer and support Crossroads over the years.

She feels a great sense of gratitude for the organization that introduced her to a career in international development.

“It totally changed the way I looked at the way the world works. It also completely changed my future plans, which at the time had been to become a university professor,” says van ‘t Bosch.

After working with a number of international development organizations, van ‘t Bosch values CCI because it continues to be grounded in volunteerism and community. The organization also serves an important role in that it reveals a larger world to Canadians.

“People have to become more aware of how all of our lives are tied up together at the very basic level,” explains van ‘t Bosch, “but I think there are so many obstacles of diversity and difference that there is no understanding of those linkages and in many ways it’s too complex for people to think about in their everyday lives.”

She is also grateful for the friendships that she has built through the organization.

“Oh, 95 per cent of all my friends to this day are from Crossroads” says van ‘t Bosch. “I’ve been unbelievably blessed with friends who share the same values as I do and who I’m very close to. After all of these of years since being in Africa together, we continue to nourish each other and enrich each other’s lives.”


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