No holidays in Kapadokya is complete without seeing the famous fairy chimneys from above … a pre-dawn flight which took us an hour to see the sun rises in the horizon and showcase the beautiful landscape down below while enjoying the cool morning breeze inside one of these colorful balloons.
Having dinner one night the guy I am seeing asked me a very serious question “how is your life?” followed by more profound question “are you happy?”. Not understanding, I asked back what he meant by those questions, which he elaborated by asking what my plans are? Knowing myself, I gladly obliged and listed my plans at least for the next five or so years.
Curious, I asked back about his plans and having a slight idea of what he will answer me, he simply said: “I have no plans … just wake up, go to work and come home tired and the day repeats.” Then he went on saying he likes to live in a small house in front of the beach so he can just swim all day and fish for food.
I asked about money, and said: “I don’t need money, will just have to use some of the fish in exchange for what I will need.” The conversation eventually led for him to tell me he will raise sheep for meat and milk, and he will get at least two sheep every year and give it to people in exchange for anything he needs, even sex. Well, I guess the last part was a bit of a stretch, but then I told him, “you just laid out your plans without you knowing them.” And he was quiet.
For some people, planning is daunting especially if you don’t have all the cards in a row, situation and life circumstances can easily thwart well thought out plans, but that’s just how it is. When it happens, you just go back to the beginning and start over or start from where you left off. Haci, the guy I am seeing (he insisted I put his name because he said he has one), knew well that when I say something or schedule an outing, it can change at the last minute. There are times he will just go along and wait until it happens. That means the world around me – mostly my work evolve and I go along as it does and try to be sane until I get to where I need to be.
But in spite of the uncertainties, it is good to know what you will do tomorrow or the day after or next week, month and years. It gives you a little bit of guidance where you’re heading, and like Haci he thinks he doesn’t make a plan, but he does.
I know that he wants to start his wedding dress design studio or shop abroad, but he also knows he’s not yet ready. He uses his current work to get as much training and experience as he could including learning how to saw using the high-speed machine to eventually do what he wants in the future. Because I know eventually he will not want to work for someone, instead, he wants to be on his own, earning his own keeps and gaining good reputations for his creations, and I know too that he has a way of achieving them we just don’t think alike for him to believe me. In his mind, it’s not a plan, they are just thoughts because the opportunity presents itself.
Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, so next time when someone asks me what I want to do in my life, I’ll remember the small house by the beach with sheep in the other room.
Death is the ultimate price to pay in war or in any situation that involves violence.
But what if you didn’t die when exposed to the cruelty of the world? That person ends up disabled changing the dynamics of his or her life and of the lives of the people around them. Especially those closes to him or her whose coping with the change also affects their being starting from their psyche.
I call it the ripple effect as a consequence of trauma.
The impact of disability, which brings change to the person himself is too much. It is life changing, altering everything he worked all his life for. Everything that they know is normal is altered forever. In their mind, more often than not their lives are over, and with that thought, it is often difficult to convince people of the alternatives. that life continues with some accommodations to start over and build a new reality.
Like in any situation of trauma, people with disabilities undergo the process of grief and acceptance. No one can do it alone, help should be available when traumatic events happen in one’s life.
The assurance that “you are not alone” should be there to see the person through the initial shock of the new reality of being alive and of being different.
The difference should be a part when the person learns to accept that it does not change anything more than the appearance. His or her mental health should be considered immediately to allow reality to set in with less dramatic effect on his understanding of his or her new person. Accepting together with him or her would be the closest people in his life because, like rearing children, acceptance of change is a “village”.
Not knowing what is there for him or her, and for them further traumatizes the person’s mind and body that is why it is important that during emergencies, psychological first aid – counseling is available and accessible to all.
Mental health support is for all the people that surround him or her as it will buoy them over to the new reality of their lives and prepare for their environment. This is accompanying immediate medical and physical support to get the person back on his or her feet and start to follow the process until a new life, an accepted reality is reached empowering the person himself and those around him into continue living because at least that they can do something about it.
No one support is more important – be it physical, medical or mental health support. We have to look at the person and acknowledge that what s/he needs is a holistic approach to allow full and complete recovery and continue to be part of the environment with the support of the people around them, equally able to adjust to the new life brought on by senseless war and violence in our world.
What would you do if someone come and complained she doesn’t understand what her team is doing when they go to the field and she’s in her job for 6 months now?
This is a serious question.
I get this far too often these days, and I don’t know what to do with the person asking. She’s been hired as a program manager with only 2 people under her supervision which should be easy and we all started at the same time, 6 months ago!
She’s claimed to have worked in the community before joining the team and knows her way around management, so there should be no problem. But there is, and I am getting tired of the same old question and complaints. To think that I have no direct relation with this person made the issue even more annoying and compelling at the same time.
To think that I have no direct relation with this person made the issue even more annoying and compelling at the same time because they all come up to me and ask, complain and whine (for the others involved).
I don’t want to come across as someone very nasty, but sometimes, I question our hiring process – why do we hire these kinds of people? That after 6 months on the job still seems like they just started – doesn’t know anything even if I am aware of the fact that she has all the information.
This is not very progressive, and it’s making me angry.
In my line of work, I come across all kinds of people. I am mostly patient and tolerant because I was a newbie once in my life so I know how it is to venture into humanitarian work. It can be like “pressure cooker” but only if you let pressure gets to you and this project, it shouldn’t be one of those.
That is why I am confused … maybe you can help me.
When you’re away from your normal environment your tendency is to adapt to that new context – to the people, the weather, the food, and the culture.
That is often the case when I go to a mission. I call it a mission because I have a particular purpose why I accepted to live away from the comforts of my home and live with in another place even if I know there will be challenges.
I’ve been doing development work for over a decade until I decided to try working in a more insecure environment – emergency. The context is different, depending on the kind of emergency, but the end goal is the same as in development – to try to restore a semblance of life people had before the emergency happened except it is done at a faster pace and in a less organized but in a way efficient kind of way.
How can you be disorganized and efficient at the same time?
I realized that when working in emergency, goals are set short because new goals will have to be set more frequently than when I am working in development. Situations change quickly either for good which is always the ultimate goal or worst, which is something anticipated as a risk when in this kind of mission. That makes it efficient – to be able to achieve them and make new ones leading towards the main reason you’re there in the first place.
When goals are short, there’s always a good rate of success of achievement therefore satisfaction is also high. It keeps me motivated to continue and look forward to the time when we are ready to transition to development, and more sustainable solutions are put in place and eventually better prepare the community to be more self-reliant in the event of another emergency.
While short goals means quick achievements of it, there’s also a big chance that because of time allocated it also makes the organization a bit tight which on the other hand offered dissatisfaction. But in this line of work, I have to learn to accept that I cannot do everything the way I want it to be – I learned to adapt and adjust and celebrate the small wins I achieve.
At least I can say that when I joined the second wave of responders during the 2015 Nepal earthquakes.
I’ve lived and seen progress being made on a day-to-day basis. I’ve met people that are more willing to be part of the change without accepting defeat because nature decided to shake them up from their stupor. I’ve witnessed people’s faith in their gods amidst the destruction. I’ve gained friends and respect towards them and their lives before, during and after the catastrophe.
Since two years ago, I know that I have more to live for than just now.
Realizing that life, like a wheel, turns and when you’re up you see the world differently than when you’re down but as it rolls you learn to adapt to it and continue to live. And look forward to the destination when finally the wheel stops rolling and can say “it has been a good ride.”
Images of what happened two years ago.
Here I go again, trying to get back to the rhythm of penning my thoughts and sharing to the virtual word.
I just signed up to Branding and Growth class to get back on track and see if I can follow what I preach to a lot of people I met in setting up projects that are supposed to help change their lives and their situations. I am talking about setting goals — reachable goals as the first task of the class.
Got me thinking what I really want to achieve with joining this class knowing full well that when I return to work in a couple of weeks, I will be overwhelmed with responding to emails. I won’t bore you with details but it’s a known fact that when one goes on holiday however short always go back to backlog longer than the time they’ve been away.
So let’s see, I will try to be as realistic as I can be and convince myself it’s really something I can do while on assignment.
- I want to focus on a couple of topics that I will write by the end of each month. It means, I want to make sure that I write about my experiences and encounters as an aid worker and raise social consciousness on topics near and dear to me and the travel perks attached to it.
- Write on both topics at least four times a week and increase interest by at least 20% among my followers and eventually gain 20% more by the end of the three months.
- Improve my writing and photo composition along the way and be able to satisfy my interest to get more serious in writing and eventually publish the book I promised my sister I will do.
Realigning my blog from what it is now will take effort, I will need serious adjusting with my priorities. I envy those that in spite of their workload, their busy lives still manages to write something and share. I don’t want to be that envious anymore –reaching these goals would mean so much. As to what it would be will remains to be seen as long as I keep pushing to meet my goals head-on and reach them.
Everybody who knows the kind of work I do knows the value of “holidays.” It is the much-awaited time-off, planned at the beginning of the mission to fit within the whole year calendar of the post assigned.
According to me, the supposed rest and recreation (or recuperation) or simply R&R is not really that restful when planning for it. Don’t get me wrong I am one of those who looks forward to it but very lazy to plan ahead because unlike some people traveling, it takes more effort for me to plan than it should be.
- I always have to plan ahead (which I don’t like) to get a visa if places I want to visit requires one for my nationality. And to do that I will need requirements that are sometimes complicated to gather when you’re out of the country to even be granted a 15-day pass.
- I try to be thrifty, but with advancing age and the kind of adventures I like nowadays, I will need to shelve a little more than what I used to do. Now, I prefer to enjoy a little luxury and comfort when traveling.
- Related to number 1 and 2, I always try to go to places where I don’t need a visa to visit, and I visited most of those countries. I had my shares of backpacking and sleeping in shabby places. Now those places that remain to be visa free are in other continents that will require some serious savings both for the airfare, board, and lodging and of course shopping, so they are not for R&R kind of holidays!
- The work gets in the way. Always felt that as it nears my break work seems to pile up. Because I don’t manage people I have no one to endorse work and leave without being tempted to check on things, worst to cancel holidays.
- To avoid all those problems, the last option is to visit “in-country” where I am assigned. But that defeats the purpose of R&R right? Although I did it more that I could count depending on the context and security situation of the country it is always best to do R&R in another place – preferably another country!
But then again there is the last option that defeats all the points I mentioned above … go home and truly rest. Be in touch with people, places in your hometown. Or simply enjoy time with family and be grounded until it’s time to go back to work and start over again!
For a couple of years, I was so eager to put something on paper, publishing and generate attention from my small friendly followers. I wrote anything and everything of what I had been doing since we entered the millennium era. Although I was dead set to tell you all about my work for people with disabilities, over time I got my thoughts all over and I lost sight on the prize of being a good storyteller.
Who am I kidding? Myself I guess.
I missed the momentum of writing daily and freely. When I returned to work in the aftermath of the great big earthquakes in Nepal. I thought I will have lots of stories to tell but at the end of each day, sleeping under the elements inside a tent rendered it impossible to even get myself to lift my arms to write reports let alone blogs because I was so tired. I did manage to post some stories, photos and a little bit of poetry but it was not enough – I was not able to tell the stories of the life I had there and of the people I encountered. Guided by ethics, I have to be careful what stories I tell and photos I post.
It got more complicated when I moved to Gaza, oPt. Social media was welcome by the Palestinian but not by the Israelis who were in charge to give us work permits to help the refugees in the occupied Gaza and West Bank. I was discouraged to write anything because everything will be taken out of context and of course be seen as bias even if intentions were not. Like in Nepal, I managed to post something but not much to tell you that I had a wonderful time living and working with the people not many of you know are being oppressed every day at this age and time.
Now I am residing in Turkey, not far different from the other context within the region. I wanted to say I am working here, but dare says not, I am touring the country and giving advice along the way. I am enjoying my time here and inspired to write mentally but physically impossible because I was consumed by other priorities than to write. Inspirations are everywhere, I just need to get myself back on track and start over.
I will not have the #illusion when I begin blogging again, although have to say, those blogs I followed when I started have gained lots of thread and I still enjoy reading their stories. Hope this time I can stick to what I say I will do and eventually become the good storyteller I want to be.