The Uuuhs and Aaarghs of my life

Posts tagged ‘Media’

Proudly Humanitarian – Reshma Aziz Khan

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It is very rare in life to come across people who literally put their heart into what they do for a living. Fortunately, I have got one such friend called Reshma who is not only a warm pot of joy, but a true warrior when it comes to the business of helping people. But what makes one stop for a while and think, “I want to be a humanitarian?” Well, this is how Reshma discovered her passion as an aid worker.

Reshma: When I was young, I wanted to be a cardiac surgeon. My dad had a heart condition, and I wanted to grow up and help people like him… but then before he passed away, I started to get some averse reaction to seeing blood, so that plan definitely was not going to work! I still wanted to help people, and when I was in high school, someone told me about the life of an aid worker – I was hooked! Knowing that there are millions out there who need a helping hand. We have all been put on this earth as ONE humanity, and it is our responsibility to lend that helping hand, no matter how tough that can get!

So what has Reshma been up to lately?A marathon! But not just any other marathon. This year, Reshma has signed-up for the #Dead2Red marathon where she will be running with her team from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea.  She tells us more about the marathon:

Reshma: So it’s actually an annual event, the Dead 2 Red Marathon,  a relay event suitable for amateurs and athletes of all ages and genders without restriction. The marathon stretches 242 kilometres from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea. It starts at an altitude of 415 metres below sea level and leads up through the Arabian Desert reaching an altitude of 120 metres above sea level before descending towards the shores of the Gulf of Aqaba at the Red Sea.

Quite a brave challenge it is to be running from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea! What would make Reshma leave her comfy desk in Nairobi to take-on such a challenging task?

Reshma: This year, the date of the race coincides with the three year anniversary of the Syria Crisis. CARE International is running this marathon to raise awareness and funds for the plight of the more than 2.5 million refugees in the region and the more than 6.5 million people who remain displaced within Syria’s borders. As a lot of the media remains focused the on military clashes and the political efforts toward resolving this crisis, CARE urges the world to not forget the  humanitarian needs of more than ten million people. We want to raise awareness by putting a human face on this crisis and by showing our solidarity.  Our goal in running this marathon is to raise 50,000 US Dollars for the Syria Response in Jordan and Lebanon.

To accomplish such a great task, Reshma needs a great team to run with her from sea to sea to show solidarity for refugees in Syria. How will she do it?

Reshma: The CARE team consists of CARE staff working in Jordan, Lebanon and Kenya, as well as five Syrian refugees who themselves are volunteers in CARE’s urban refugee centres. In total, our international team consists of 10 members hailing from the USA, Portugal, Kenya, Germany, Jordan and Syria.  The Syrian refugees on the team are former engineers, teachers, graphic designers and students. They all volunteer with CARE to support and serve fellow Syrian refugees.

Yes, humanitarians do get the chance to creatively spread awareness about the increasing need to help people. But why did Reshma sign-up for the #Dead2Red marathon? Isn’t it a big risk?

Reshma: Having worked with refugees in Kenya’s Dadaab camps, and having heard their stories, you realize that any one of us could be a refugee. Could you imagine a life where you had to leave everything you knew behind, including all your possessions, community centres, possibly friends and family, job, everything. I am running for the refugees of the world, to show them that they are not alone.

Preparing for marathon from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea is not a cup of English tea! Reshma is honest to say that it has been tough, especially when it comes to physical training ahead of the event. However, quitting is not an option for this lady.

Reshma: …Running the marathon in itself is one of my biggest challenges! Those who know me know that I cannot run to save my life!  So trying to run more than 100 metres has been difficult, but I am happy to say that I can run 3000metres today without seriously huffing and puffing, so getting there! Also, I am always so busy, so trying to find time to run almost every day has been a challenge!

[But…] I keep pushing! I have to do this, not so much for me, but for the refugees! Keeping that in mind makes me go on!

On a lighter note, the life of a humanitarian comes with a variety of fun moments especially in cultural contexts. Here is an example where camel is involved.

Reshma: The inter-cultural communication – especially when you don’t speak the same language as the people you are helping, or your colleagues in another country! I remember the first time I was offered nyiri nyiri, dried camel meat – a delicacy in northern Kenya and Somalia….Everyone was looking at me expectantly for my approval, so even though I was not the biggest fan, I had to smile through this camel-fat filled aroma – not pleasant at all!

Aside from supporting CARE International in Kenya as a Knowledge Management Coordinator, Reshma happens to be a professional belly-dancer!

Reshma: Well many already know, but I LOVE to dance…….. I have been a belly dancer since I was young…dance is my way of connecting to the real me, carefree, like the wind!

Getting Involved

If you have been looking for a way to contribute to charity or just touch someone’s life out there amid the Syria crisis, Reshma invites you to join the cause and send a donation through this CARE International page.

For more about the Syrian Civil War, please click here.

Join the conversation on Facebook by following the hashtag #Dead2Red and see what the runners have been up to as they prepare for the marathon!

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If you have never met a real humanitarian warrior, you can now check that off your list having virtually met one!

“…I can do my best to make sure that I helped as many people as I could to empower themselves , for the improvement of their own lives, those of their families and communities.” ~Reshma Aziz Khan

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The Pain that Heals

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Ever heard someone share a personal story that you totally identified with and learned from?

Today, I asked myself about the confidence it must take for such people to open their hearts in public about a painful moment in their lives – for the sake of empowering others.

Furthermore, I asked myself what would happen to me if these people suddenly stopped reaching out to me though their personal stories. How then would I get practical lessons on how to face life?

A friend recently enlightened me when she said that to be a true mentor and touch lives I must be prepared to be vulnerable. This type of vulnerability is not about being emotional or mushy. It deals with deliberately sharing your life stories – truths, hurts, victories, challenging lessons – with people so that they may identify with you as a real human being and learn from what you did wrong or what you did right.

Many of us have gone through hills and valleys in the journey of life. But why is it always easier to share about the good things? Is it because they paint us better, is it easier, is it less damaging to our reputations?

Why is it that we cannot share about the very same things we need help with?

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Her Heart to Yours

Emma* who is a mother of three went through a bad marriage for 10years. After a lovely Sunday afternoon spent with her kids in church and at the pizza place, she would go home to a mouthful of mockery from her drunken husband. He would call her a whore and that going to church would not help her cover up her filthy acts. He had been unfaithful to her and had slowly started shifting the guilt towards her which triggered obsession. But this only became worse with time when her husband beat up their children suspecting that they might have not been his. The little one who was only 7-years-old was hit so hard that he lost consciousness. Emma spent the night in hospital waiting for her son to recover. This is when she picked us her phone and made the call she had always avoided for years. She called up her mother who had always had her suspicion about James from the day she met him. Her mother had always tried calling her even after her rushed wedding but she never answered. She was filled with guilt having realised that her mother had been right about James after all. Her mother promised to be at the hospital by morning. Emma prayed all night until her mother arrived. Emma was able to rescue her children from an abusive father and from the dangers of an abusive and broken marriage. Now, a happily married mother of four Emma realises that if she did not take that bold step to leave her husband, she would be in double jeopardy since her ex-husband was found dead in his house after refusing to resolve an outstanding bill at a local pub. During her trying times, she remembered feeling helpless even at church because everyone else seemed so perfect. No ladies talked about their challenging times; just how happy they are and how their children are doing well. Emma now purposes to talk to young ladies who are thinking about marriage and those who are newly wedded. She opens her home to them so that they can share their challenges and successes. She has learnt that the best way to touch people’s lives is by sharing the hurts and challenges and the lessons she learned from it all. Because of this, many ladies who had faced and overcome marital wars started opening up about the challenges faced in marriages even with young ladies who had often been misled by media and other women about the real face of marriage.

*Emma is not a real name.

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This may seem like just another story about a woman who faced a tough time and is now living a better life. But just think about it, how many people don’t get to see the other side and heal? How many have that one person they can call up and help them though a rough patch in life?

One thing I have come to learn from my interactions with relatives, friends, neighbours and total strangers is that there are so many hurt people in this world. There is so much of it that people prefer to think that they are facing their own unique type of hurt. The truth of the matter is that hurt is hurt – it steals, it kills and it destroys when we don’t learn from it and get stuck in it.

But finding that one ray of hope to see and even pursue the life beyond hurt is what makes us a unique creation as the human race. It all starts with a step, and it begins with you.

How can you make yourself more available to receive help or to help another person?

How willing are you to learn from other people’s experiences?

How willing are you to share, teach and train people having achieved a handy experience?

What are you waiting for? Go right ahead and do it!

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The human race does not break because of what we give (or don’t give) materially but because of what we say (or not say), what we show (or not show) or what we learn and not share.

Open your heart and share a pain that heals and empowers lives. It was and has never been in vain!

 

Yours Truly,

Ayuma.

 

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