Everyone has a first time. No not that first time, I mean the first time you know why you exist. The first time you realised that what you think, feel and do matters. Oh yeah, sorry I meant to start with a warning that this blog post may verge a little on the deep and reflective.
It all started with a relapse into my teenage years following my 36th 30th 26th birthday when I thought I’d check out the Dolly Magazine website. I read a blog by Tiffany Dunk, editor of Dolly, about her recent to trip to India. And I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I got teary as I read it. Didn’t help that I was reading it when I should have been paying attention in a meeting but I just couldn’t stop. You see India was my first time.
It wasn’t my first time traveling and it certainly wasn’t the first time I had witnessed a less than savoury side of life. But it was the start of knowing for absolute sure what I was going to be when I grew up. Yep it was when I knew that I was going to be a humanitarian communicator.
Reading Tiffany’s blog was almost like a “This is Your Life” moment. The chaos and colour, the heat and the food of India filled my mind. And the memory of that horrible heart-wrenching pause I felt in a father’s response to the hopeful bright eyes of his daughter. That moment where reality was cruelly allowed to suppress hope.
I don’t much like reality. I like sci-fi, fantasy and the odd cartoon. I like happy endings and yes I like rom-coms. And here I was, one of seven people crammed into a tiny concrete box of a home, sweat running down my face, transfixed by a little girl looking at her HIV infected father in much the same way I use to, and probably still do, look at mine. Seeing his hesitation and unease at his daughter’s gaze as she dreamed of a future affected me more than the filth of the city slums and the exhaustive poverty.
I would never again be able to say I’m not sure what to do with my life. In the two and half years since I was in India I’ve worked toward this, and just for you guys, I’ve started documenting my journey to becoming a humanitarian communicator. In four weeks time I will move into a new role as a communicator within our humanitarian team. It is going to be a massive learning curve working with some incredible people. I am excited, scared and sad to leave my current team of amazing communicators. But it is time to grow up and stop changing the channel when a bit of reality comes through my TV.