Suicide bombers are getting me down. I’ve been reading about them for five days in preparation for writing a research paper and it is a little disturbing. Usually I combat the serious topics of my Masters degree in International Crisis Management with chocolate, cartoons and cocktails. I call it the Triple C defense. Lately though I have needed more than chocolate to keep the sweetness in my life. So here is a collection of short shout outs to the people that have kept me inspired and on track this week.
The Whitney Houston Moment
No this is not about The Bodyguard. Before she was always loving Kevin Costner she was giving us ‘the greatest love of all’. Back in June I met a local school principal in Senegal. I don’t normally like school principals and certainly any discussion I’ve had with ones in the past usually resulted me sitting in a room on my own for 50 minutes. This one though was different. Within moments of talking with him I found myself wanting to break out singing ‘I believe the children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way.’
He had left his hometown and traveled to this very small remote area of Senegal because he believes every child has a basic right to education. He spoke with so much hope and affection for his students. He was working with the community to ensure access to education for all; he was encouraging parents to even let their daughters go to school. When I told him that earlier that day I had interviewed one of his female students and she and her mother had said their biggest hope for their future was to finish school and not enter into an early marriage he clasped his hands together, looked to the sky and whispered a thank you. Everything about him was hopeful, and now when I need a reminder of what hope means I just look at his picture, take a moment to sit back and smile. Then I just get on with it.
The reality check
She walked into the room and sat at the end of the table silently. We continued our monthly meeting for a few minutes and then when the usual business was concluded we asked her to speak. The moment she opened her mouth we knew it was our turn to be silent. She was quiet, modest, strong and beautiful. As the Communications Director for World Vision Pakistan she gave us a small insight into her time working as a single, white, young, female in one of the most complex international development situations. I didn’t take my eyes of her the entire time she was speaking. Not cos I’m creepy but because she had a real grace about her. You do hear a lot of war stories in this industry and they are sometimes worn as a badge of honour. But she wasn’t like that. The impact of her talk was more in the pauses than the words. Her smiles, laughs, directness and truths wove together to show the tight rope of harsh realities and hopeful futures we all walk at some point in our lives.
My fairy ‘fashionista’ godmother
I am not a fashion model and I have given up trying to have style. But this week, I found myself caring a lot about my appearance. I had a rather important meeting and I was nervous; so nervous that I was completely freaking out about what to wear. This is unusual for me as I own five pairs of jeans, nine white tops and that’s really all I wear, simple, easy and no colour coordination required. Unfortunately I couldn’t don my standard outfit for this meeting. Enter my fairy ‘fashionista’ godmother. With a whirl and a twirl I found myself laden with gorgeous dresses from my friend’s wardrobe with hints of what shoes and jackets would match. It is not so much the clothes that made my day, though they were pretty awesome. It was the kindness and support from someone that has only been a friend for a short time. What to her might seem like a small act or gesture to me was amazing. It reminded me that despite some of the knocks you take there is always kindness out there if you keep yourself open to it.