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We live in a country where opportunity is abundant. A country where we are able to travel the world, get an education, vote, express our sexuality, drink alcohol and go to the market without the accompaniment of a husband or fearing for our lives. We live in a country with running water, sound government and no war. Pretty remarkable circumstances, considering the state of other countries around the world.
A dear friend of mine was recently accepted to work as a nurse for the organization ‘Doctors Without Borders’. In June, she will be setting sail for Syria. A country that is painfully unstable and war-torn. A country where aid workers fear for their lives, afraid of being kidnapped or bombed.
Although I am terrified of her leaving and heading into such conditions, not knowing what is going to happen, I understand. Like my friend, I intend to dive into a country, stricken by genocide, or war, not knowing where my fate lies. The question most of you probably have in your heads, is why? Why would we, and millions of others, choose to put themselves in harm’s way? Why would they leave their country where they can enjoy the luxuries of a hot shower and the love of family? Peace of mind while walking home from work? Why head into a situation that forces you to question whether this morning will be your last?
To help you understand, I’ll share with you what goes through my head everyday. Perhaps this will shed some light on why we have chosen to devote ourselves to such work;
I don’t understand why I should be able to see a doctor when I am ill, while someone else cannot because the walk to the closest doctor is 30 kilometres away, and they don’t have that kind of time nor energy to make it before their life runs out. I don’t understand why I should be able to live my everyday knowing I will have enough food and water to nourish my body, while mothers in other parts of the world are forced to choose which of their children will have to starve, because there is not enough food to go around. Why if I were raped, I could go to a clinic and be treated, while a women or man raped in other parts of the world are shamed. Cast aside because they are no longer virgins, and therefore no longer pure for marriage.
In Barack Obama’s 2013 inauguration speech, he said; “Our journey is not complete until all our children […] know that they are cared for, and cherished, and know that they are safe from harm.” Although he directed this to the American people, I believe it should be true for the world. That borders, race, religion, gender, sexuality, should not affect keeping our families safe from harm.
Although I am optimistic, my readings, experiences and education have prevented naivety. I know that relief work, although necessary, is not sustainable. I know that billions of dollars are invested in development work, yet only 5% of projects, worldwide have been deemed successful. I know that no matter how much work is done, there will always be another war. However, I don’t believe this is reason enough for me to stop trying to ensure that I am living in a world I am proud of, rather than a world I am horrified to be part of. I don’t know what the answers are, but perhaps a lifetime of work will provide some insight!