A crash course in changing the world.
I have followed with interest (and a lot of disbelief) the various reactions (losing spark, disillusioned, resignations) of various Agents following actions taken by EVOKE administrators against some Agents.
Why disbelief? Coming from a country with a history of political assassinations, detention of political activists, extra-judicial killings, and numerous human rights violations not to mention poverty and disease, I am an ardent believer in freedom of speech and the rights of individuals. I also come from a country (and a continent) full of resourceful and resilient people working everyday to improve our economic and social well being against great adversity. I have summarized below a day in the life of 3 African women to showcase some of my people. (Their full stories can be found on the WFPs blog. ).
Véronique is 47 years old and from Burundi, an area hard-hit by last year’s heavy rains and floods. Veronique suffers from AIDS and lost her husband to the disease. She has 6 children and has lost a seventh child. "I live in a house that my husband built out of metal. The roof has now gone bad and has h***s in it. Every morning I get up at 5am and wash my head. I wash my wh*** body and clothes on Saturdays to prepare for church on Sundays. I don’t eat anything in the morning, nor do my children. When times were better we used to cultivate the hills and the swamp areas and this would feed me and my family every day. Now there is very little to eat. Sometimes we eat cassava leaves that are diseased and these give us diarrhea. It would be nice to have someone else’s life, to be able to give my children what they need, to wear proper clothes. I dream of finding a job that gives me enough food to feed us every day. I pray for myself and for my family."
Anasthasie is 60 years old and was driven from her home in Fataki (Congo), by militia violence in December. She is now staying with a family in Bunia. Anasthasie has been married for 45 years and has 9 children, 4 of whom live with her. She wakes up at 6am daily. Her family does not eat in the morning – they have just 1 meal a day. She has a bath once a day, often without soap, because she doesn’t have any. She spends each day looking for work – it is hard to live as a displaced person. The entire family mother, father and all children sleep together on the floor on a mat Anasthasie made, and cover themselves with Anasthasie’s cloths. The question she asks herself all day long is, “How am I going to do to find food tomorrow? When I think about my life, my stomach hurts. ” She is scared her children will become street children then bandits.
Fatime is 25 years old from Chad. Her husband and one child were slaughtered when militia attacked her village. She fled with her remaining 5 children and a bag of flour. In her new life as an Internally Displaces Person (IDP) Fatime relives this fear of attack every other day when she and a group of women go searching for firewood. The women collect water from a dried-up riverbed that fills up with water during the rainy season which is a one-hour walk from the camp. They need to go twice and sometimes three times a day – they cannot bring enough water for the wh*** day in one trip. In the afternoon the women sit together and talk. They sometimes wonder about faraway places and what life is like there.
Why disbelief? The above stories are not unique - this is the story of many Africans. They are not lazy people who sit around feeling sorry for themselves - as some are wont to believe. They certainly need help from you and I but they are not waiting around for a savior. They are courageously doing whatever little they can to survive every day.
Why disbelief? If all it takes for me to lose spark / be disillusion / resign is some tough action from EVOKE administrators am I really ready to save the world?