Sojourn Wallace is a fixer. She travels the world to fix what humanity has broken by way of conflict and what Mother Nature has broken by way of natural disasters. As the founder and general director of the non-profit organization, Off Track Health, Wallace ensures that resources and humanitarian aid get to individuals and families who’ve have been impacted by poverty, persecution, and war. Teams of doctors, nurses and other volunteers are dispatched across the world.
“We should all try to validate our existence. I am not here for fun. People are dying and hungry,” says Wallace. She brings that level of intensity to her life and leadership of her organization. Wallace describes an almost “obsessive” energy takes over when something isn’t working, “I’ll book a flight and go fix it. I strongly believe in helping people.” Admittedly, this has impacted her marriage and friendships. “When you are passionate about something, you have to sacrifice,” she says.
Wallace has always been in the service of others at one point or another in her life and career. She recalls dispersing medicine with her mother in a home for disabled people. Later, she worked on an award-winning project, ‘Postcard from the Homeless,’ to complete her Bachelor’s in Fine Art. She traveled across America photographing the homeless and made postcards with their stories written on the back. After moving to England, she began selling expensive health care packages to the NHS (National Health Service). The irony of her job was not lost on Wallace. In one calendar year, she sold £16 million in health care packages to the already heavily indebted NHS.
“The NHS provides free medical care in England and is one of the few countries that provides this service and here I was selling million dollar packages to them,” remarked Wallace.
After receiving her Masters in International Relations in Public Health, Wallace was still trying to figure out what was next. She traveled to Lesbos, Greece to help attend to the influx of refugees. A picture of her and little girl went viral, and with the help of Hollywood star, Susan Sarandon on the ground; Off Track Health received some traction. Subsequently, Off Track Health raised $500,000 to help refugees in the Beqaa Valley at the border of Lebanon and Syria.
Off Track Health has been on the ground helping people in Haiti, Greece, and at the Syrian border. When asked how she copes emotionally with the toll of humanity’s sum of fears and disasters, Wallace says, “I think more in terms of a project manager in getting things done. I need to be there to ensure my teams get what they need.” While she admits to having a thick skin, it is this impermeable drive that keeps her going to ensure help is dispatched efficiently. Wallace scoffs at New Age buffs who set intentions and believe in launching wishes. “I’m more action-oriented. Refugee crisis fall in and out of headlines and I have to do the work to make sure people get what they need,” she says.
Harsh criticism and even hate messages are no strangers to Wallace. “I’ve had people say, ‘You’re not even European, why are you helping?’ I just laugh at them.” In an interview with ravishly.com, she also admits that after the viral photo,
Worrying about herself isn’t an option though.
One way she is springing into action is with her children book series, Every Girl. The idea was born after she assisted with refugees in Lebanon. The series tells a story from every woman in the world collected in interviews. A portion of the book sales goes to Off Track Health.
In an interview with Bustle, Wallace reportedly said:
“That was kind of the beginning of everything that made me feel like the refugee crisis wasn’t just about what was happening in Syria. It was also a global phenomenon, a way of group-think, and people just deciding that they don’t understand or they don’t know, so they just hate.”
Ultimately, Wallace’s goal is to ensure that she sells enough books to sustain the non-profit. “I spend a lot to time building relationships with donors. The thing is…people change their minds and political agendas sway. I need a product that will sustain Off Track Health and we won’t depend on handouts so much,” she affirms.
Focusing on the bigger picture, this year her travel schedule includes Boston, Kentucky, Amsterdam, Iceland, and London. Truly living up to her name, Sojourn is making temporary stays across the globe, determined to make this world a better place for all the afflicted.