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Lend me your eyes, I can change what you see


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On to the next big adventure!

Big changes are happening in my life this year, and I’m so excited to be able to share my news with you!

I had this vision of writing the perfect blog post, to eloquently describe what’s happening in my life right now and what changes are happening. The thing is though, my head is just too full of plans and lists and nerves to write anything coherent, so here’s the quick rundown for now:

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I first heard about Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières, or MSF) when I was in high school. One of our social directors took a group of us to a Refugee Camp in the Heart of the City, where we got to learn about life in camps, as well as how food rations and health work. I remember that I kept my ration card for years afterwards. (The Australian side of MSF developed this really cool interactive experience, as well!)

The notion of MSF kind of always floated inside my head after that. I went on to take various international trips, and I studied development at university, thinking that I wanted to eventually work in refugee camps but not quite sure how to get to that point, or how to work for MSF since I’m not a doctor. A few years ago, I read 6 Months in Sudan, an amazing book that just blew my mind wide open, about a doctor who spent 6 months working for MSF in Sudan. That’s when I looked more closely at who can work for MSF, and realised that there are non-medical positions in the field as well, for logisticians and administrators. I set my sights on one of these positions, and began a certificate in Disaster and Emergency Management.

In the meantime, I’ve had some pretty amazing jobs that have allowed me to develop skills in HR, administration and management – all things that MSF looks for in their field administrator. MSF holds recruitment sessions a few times a year, where you get to hear more about what they look for when they’re recruiting field staff. I went to one last November, and was heartened when they said that anyone can apply, and then you get feedback from an HR manager, telling you what’s missing from your application so that you can better prepare for next time.

So, I applied in February, with little expectations, but hoping that they would point me in the right direction in terms of what experience I still needed to gain. To my immense surprise, they got back to me pretty quickly with an interview request!

Now, after two interviews, some tests, some references, and two days of pre-training, I just got my official welcome e-mail 🙂

 

There still isn’t anything set in stone, but I have an HR manager who is looking for a contract for me, likely for a 9 month posting. I’ll most likely be going to one of their projects in central or eastern Africa, at some point in September. There’s a lot to do between now and then: wrap up the program that I’m currently working on, get a variety of shots and medical tests, drive my things across the country, and a million other little things that are involved in going overseas for a 9 month contract!

So, as you can imagine, my head is pretty full. I’ll write more soon, about the preparation process, but now that I’ve officially told my employers that I’m leaving, I’m finally free to share my exciting news with the rest of the world!

 

 

 

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World Vision’s One Life Experience

Update from yesterday : credit card-y things sorted themselves out late this afternoon. What a relief!

While I was waiting for everything to get sorted, I went to the West Edmonton Mall, which was awesome. Friends have often pointed out that it’s weird that I love shopping so much, because it sort of clashes with all of my other passions and beliefs. I don’t get it either. It’s not even buying stuff – I just like being in stores. I didn’t actually buy anything today, I just walked around for hours (which you can definitely do at WEM!)

While meandering, I stumbled upon World Vision’s One Life Experience.

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It’s an interesting concept. They’ve (kind of) re-created an African village. When you walk in, they give you an ipod to listen to, as someone recounts a story of a now-sponsored World Vision child – stories of rape, kidnappings, etc. I’m still not sure what my impressions are. I tried to put myself in the mind of someone who doesn’t know about these issues. I can imagine that it could be scary, or touching, or painful. This blogger has a good post about the exhibit, saying that it’s not an accurate representation of the African continent (check out the rest of the blog for more amazingness). However, One Life only claims to tell you about one child’s story, in their village, and I think that this exhibit was effective in communicating that one child’s life/village/experience. World Vision needs to fundraise, after all, and if that’s the way forward, then more power to them. It’s better than showing pictures of starving children with a sad voice-over – at least the pictures in the final station were of smiling, chubby children.

I’ve spent a lot of time talking with people in this field about the effectiveness of intervention and aid. A lot of it is dramatization and trying to pull at people’s heartstrings, and the question I always end up with is this: What’s important? That the people who were at the mall today felt pity for these children, or lucky about their lives, or even inclined to sponsor a child? In this case, I don’t think so. I think that the most important part of this exhibit is that at the end of the day, a few more people will find out that child soldiers and everything else in the exhibit do exist. Sure, they’re not representative of the entire continent, but they are a real issue, and at least WV is bringing attention to them.

I also met this girl, who is fasting for a month, or until she raises $3500, to feed kids in Haiti. Click on the link for a more eloquent description of her adventure.