Monthly Archives: August 2014

We Are Connected

“And the real name of our connection to this everywhere different and differently named earth is “work.” We are connected by work even to the places where we don’t work, for all places are connected…”        – Wendell Berry

If you happen to have read two or three of my blog posts and newsletters, you may have picked up on my frequent Wendell Berry name-drops. Basically, I think he’s the bee’s knees.   [While writing this post, I discovered that he and I share a birthday…all the more reason to like the man.]

An outspoken poet, author, and activist, Berry inspires and challenges humanity’s response to environmental and social justice issues. He is most infamous for his stances on environmental degradation and the importance of community.

In the polluted, expansive, and bustling city that is Nairobi, it is more often than not that I feel disconnected from nature and the land. Yet, removed from side-walks, exhaust fumes, and sky-scrapers, it is obvious that every surrounding detail is intertwined: Cows graze on freshly sprouted grass from recent rains; people collect water from deep wells and water-pans filled by these same rains, using it to hydrate themselves and boil their tea; trees are cut down in copious quantities and made into balls of charcoal, later used to boil the collected water for that same tea.

Navigating my way through Nairobi, I often wonder, “There must be a balance, some way for us to feel connected to the earth, no matter our surroundings.”

If, as stated by Berry, “all places are connected,” shouldn’t humanity be compelled to be good stewards of every inhabited place?

The following photo essay tells the story of land – it’s integral role and unmistakable connection to the people and places in which World Concern works.

The pictures and quotes serve as reminders that stewardship and care of land is not optional, for in giving to the land we humble ourselves to the one who created it all.

“Good work is always modestly scaled, for it cannot ignore either the nature of individual places or the differences between places, and it always involves a sort of religious humility, for not everything is known.” “…the care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.” “Good work can be defined only in particularity, for it must be defined a little differently for every one of the places and every one of the workers on the earth.”IMG_8887

“…it is clear by now that we cannot exempt one place from our ruin of another. The name of our proper connection to the earth is “good work,” for good work involves much giving of honor. It honors the source of its materials; it honors the place where it is done; it honors the art by which it is done; it honors the thing that it makes and the user of the made thing.”

World Humanitarian Day 2014

Today is a very important day.

World Humanitarian Day.

As declared by the UN, WHD is ‘a day to commemorate all people who have lost their lives in humanitarian service and to celebrate the spirit that inspires humanitarian work around the world.’ This year’s focus lies on ‘humanitarian heroes’ – those who risk their lives and sacrifice much in order to assist people in need.

I’ve had the GREAT and humbling privilege of working alongside many a humanitarian hero in South Sudan, Somalia, Chad, and Kenya. A large portion of my colleagues have moved significant distances away from his or her family and community, often even country, in order to live and work in very challenging environments. For example: 120 degree Fahrenheit temperatures, limited sources of produce, consistent power outages, poor to no internet connections, many a large insect, and threats of insecurity.

Below is a collection of photos that barely scrape the surface of development work behind the scenes: life as a World Concern humanitarian worker in East Africa.

These folks are to be acknowledged and, more importantly, celebrated.

Madut and a little boy play with my tripod at an IDP site in South Sudan.

Madut and a little boy play with my tripod at an IDP site in South Sudan.

Vistas on the way to villages in Somaliland.

Vistas on the way to villages in Somaliland.

Meeting with community leaders in Chad.

Meeting with community leaders in Chad.

When all rooms are booked, we camp out at the WFP compound in South Sudan.

When all rooms are booked, we camp out at the WFP compound in South Sudan.

Working alongside farmers in South Sudan.

Working alongside farmers in South Sudan.

When the cell connection is weak...

When the cell connection is weak…

Discussing with locals at an IDP site in South Sudan.

Discussing with locals at an IDP site in South Sudan.

Max leads a rent-to-own discussion in South Sudan.

Max leads a rent-to-own discussion in South Sudan.

Humanitarian eating spots.

Humanitarian eating spots.

Destination: reached.

Destination: reached.

Scouting sites in Kenya.

Scouting sites in Kenya.

Staff give back to the land in Nairobi.

Staff give back to the land in Nairobi.

Meeting spot, Somaliland.

Meeting spot, Somaliland.

Community meetings in Somaliland.

Community meetings in Somaliland.

Nebiyu surveys a rehabilitated water catchment system in Somaliland.

Nebiyu surveys a rehabilitated water catchment system in Somaliland.

One of the most important humanitarian roles: driver.

One of the most important humanitarian roles: driver.

Meeting with a village chief in Chad.

Meeting with a village chief in Chad.

IDPs wait for transport in South Sudan.

IDPs wait for transport in South Sudan.

Sustainable agricultural training in South Sudan.

Sustainable agricultural training in South Sudan.

Being a humanitarian isn't all serious. Chad.

Being a humanitarian isn’t all serious. Chad.

Surveying a dirty water hole in South Sudan.

Surveying a dirty water hole in South Sudan.

Always on the road = views from the car. Chad.

Always on the road = views from the car. Chad.

Humanitarians need tea breaks, too.

Humanitarians need tea breaks, too.

 

 

On the road again, Somaliland.

On the road again, Somaliland.

Another day, another bed.

Another day, another bed.

Going to visit a village... or on a safari?!

Going to visit a village… or on a safari?!

 

 

 

Sister Kim in Quotes // Part III

By now you’ve heard enough about the life and legend of Sister Kim from my perspective.

It’s time the stories of her 30 committed years of service are expressed by some of the individuals those she’s impacted the most.

Reverend Stephen, Diocese Mission & Youth Coordinator

“My relationship with Sister Kim is very close because I take her as my mentor. She molded me. Without her, I would not be sitting in this office – I would be at home.”

“She is forward – if something is wrong, she tells you. But she always does it in a loving way. That is a friend indeed.”

“Without the help of World Concern, we would not have this level of health care. The government of Uganda steps in when they see you are working hard – so when Sis Kim came, they also came in to assist.”

“If we had power, we would actually strengthen her to have more time – expand her days of living on the earth. Sister Kim has an open heart. Whatever you give to her, she will use it on behalf of others.”

IMG_9317Reverend Pons, Diocese Secretary

“We have had less money to take on the capacity of our staff, but Sister Kim has always mobilized funds. She has sponsored many students – including the staff in our health center and the pastors in our church.”

“Sister Kim is so passionate about prayer that it is difficult to get her to take medication when she is sick.”

“She helped establish the first ever health conference in Nebbi and, thanks to her mobilization skills, we currently have two doctors.”

“If it were to be the wish of the people, Sister Kim should be here forever.”

“When Sister Kim is out of this community, it is very noticeable.” 

Geoffrey, Lead Administrator at Goli Health Center

“What I like about Sister Kim is that she is very cooperative, even if challenged.”

“I value her as my mother, sister, and friend.”

“Our staff unite as one body to do our services.”

“Goli is different than other public health centers because we want to show love to the community.”

Anne, Principal at Kuluva Nursing School

“It was very nice to have SIster Kim as a mentor – she’s full of energy and I learned to be the same way.”

“Sister gave scholarships to the best students.”

“She recruited young girls and boys and trained them as assistants because we were short on local staff.”

“You can imagine me trying to step into the shoes of this kind of a person.”

“At first I had no idea where to start from, but she continued praying for me, visiting me, and supporting me financially when necessary.”

“She taught me about trusting in God and persevering, even when things are hard.”

Charity, Nursing Assistant

“Patients feel good to come this way because we have good services and treat them with kindness.”

“All of the staff here are cooperative – we work hand in hand, so we feel good.”

“Sister Kim makes sure there is no shortage of drugs in the pharmacy.”

“Sister Kim paid for and organized my nursing training. This makes me very happy because I did not know what I was going to do.”

“Before I was just at home with no money. I wanted to go to school but had no resources. Sister Kim made it possible for me to be where I am today.”

Over the course of her time in Uganda, Sister Kim has significantly transformed the lives of hundreds of individuals. She would never admit it herself, but her selfless spirit has seeped deeply into the roots of Nebbi, Uganda.

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