These are dispatches from front lines, places where people encounter hostile forces – military, militia, mobs, and arms of the state machinery, natural events, microbes, wildlife or environment as such. Faced with such threats people fight, flee, succumb, cope or adapt.
Most of these are eyewitness accounts. I wish none of us ever have to witness these horrors ever again.
Though datelined often from terrains of tragedy one would like to highlight stories of survival, grit, resilience and hope. The lesson I learned from my travels across the humanitarian’s world, without borders, is that it is always the local people who are the heroes. They take the first call, and sometimes the only call, in an emergency. Heroes of here and now. It is a collection of their stories – not for 30 seconds of fame but for sharing with others in this lonely planet.
The words, visuals and sound bites need not necessarily reflect the organisations I work for/ with.
About Unni Krishnan, the contributor:
Most of the last 20 years, I have worked in (and on) humanitarian situations. On front lines where people encounter hostile forces – disasters, military, mobs, terror, microbes, extreme weather events and so on. Faced with inexplicable threats, people in crises fight, flee, succumb, cope or adapt.
Trained as a physician writing medical prescriptions, I ended up often drafting press releases and funding proposals – a “spin” doctor, as my friends joke. Well, often, they are more useful in humanitarian situations!
Growing up in Kerala in South India, a very wet place, my mother always told me to overlook the dirt and mud of ponds and focus on blooming lotuses in them. Now I always encourage children in areas where I work to shut out the din around and focus on what they love the most. Be cheerful – despite everything.
Working with some of the leading humanitarian agencies such as Oxfam, ActionAid and Plan International and studying in some of the centres of excellence such as the Madras University and University of Geneva, helped to understand the science of health and humanitarian action.
The most important lesson I learned from children, while playing football or flying kites with them in crises situations in over 50 countries worldwide- many of them flash points of disasters, conflicts or epidemics? Life is not always about waiting for the storm to pass, at times it is about learning how to dance in the rain. The trick is not to lose the fun of life. One has to find the right balance between the human suffering and the difference we make through our actions, however small it may be.
Working in humanitarian settings offers an option to bring lasting changes in children’s lives. I come across ordinary children who show extra ordinary survival skills, resilience and grit in my regular work and the positive impact of our work on a daily basis- every day. Well, I have an exciting job – a meaningful one, not just to me.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org : Twitter: unnikru
To know more about Unni, please see the extract from a published article here.