Saturday, 31 March 2012

What a Thing to Do.

I will be flying to Africa today for World Vision, to blog about the upcoming food crisis in Niger.

I've known about the possibility of this for over two weeks now, but didn't think it would happen because my security background check was taking so long. When World Vision originally asked me if I was interested, I said yes straight away and didn't even think about it. I wanted it bad - more than any blog award, more than any accolade. I bombarded World Vision with my media kit and my stats and my reach ... things I hardly ever do, makes me cringe. I gave them everything. Hopefully I was in with a chance.

I've been living under this Maybe Africa cloud for a while now. When I got so sick last week and ended up in hospital, I was extremely upset that my chances were dashed. Then I got better. Days were going by and I *still* had no answer, it was so frustrating. I let it go to the Universe, then took it straight back again. I saw no signs, could not sense the future at all. So frustrating.

I don't usually let myself want things so badly in life, for fear of disappointment. It's easier to expect nothing.

But I just knew, in my bone marrow ... that if I went to Africa, I could do the stories justice. I could use all of my blog writing skills I've built up over the years, my whole-hearted voice. I found out about six hours ago, that I will be indeed going. Rang Dave straight away, needing his support like never before.

When I packed for Melbourne the other day, I actually packed for Africa. The most modest and drab clothes in the land, in a small carry-on bag. I said goodbye to my kids - my two sick kids - not knowing if I would see them in two days or two weeks.

"Bye sweethearts .... mum is going to Melbourne. But mum MIGHT be going to Africa."

Never has it been so hard to leave them. Never have I been so overcome by that guilt - it very nearly paralysed me. I left anyway, crying on the train all the way. It helps to imagine my boys as teenagers one day - men. Living their own lives, doing their own thing. Is it so bad, if I steal time away from them .. to do this One Big Thing?

My flight itinerary is utter insanity - leaving Saturday on a midnight flight to Doha, then Paris, then Casablanca, then Africa. Did you know that Casablanca is in Morocco? I didn't. It takes almost 30 hours to get there, on four planes. Five nights in Niamey, Niger. Then back to Australia. That's eight airplanes in total. Eight pilots, out there in the world. Doing their thing, eating dinner right now, going about their day. I wish them clarity. I wish them happy love time with their partners. I'd like them to do their jobs properly and safely so I make it over there and do mine. (Every time I'm on a plane I resist the urge to scream WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIEEEEEEEE.)

If I die on this trip I hope I at least die on the way back, AFTER I've done my meddlesome earnest heart do-gooding reporting.

I'm worried. That I won't write well enough or I will write too hard-hitting. Too truthy ... you KNOW I can't sugar-coat things very well. I hope that's ok. I'm worried I'll miss Easter with my boys and I didn't buy them any eggs. Worried about where I will go to the toilet in Africa, what I will eat, who will I meet. Worried about my bleeding heart dripping all over the floor and I'll trip over it and be useless.

Each day in Niger I'll travel out to the communities, talking to people about what life is like for them. I've had my immunisations, had pre-trip counselling, bought cotton flowy tops. What DOES one pack, for a trip to Africa?

I'll try to do another quickie post before I leave l tonight.

I know you all can't come with me but I'm bringing you anyway. I need you. The last few weeks I'd lie in bed at night thinking about what it would be like if I went, and imagining what your reaction would be. I strangely drew strength from support you hadn't even given me yet.If anybody ever asks you what does a blogger do, you're more than welcome to direct them to my next week's worth of blog posts. The West Africa Food Crisis appeal was launched by World Vision Australia HERE last week. It's a direct response to the crisis that is rapidly escalating, with around 15 million people in need of food assistance and some now surviving on wild leaves and animal feed. This crisis has not picked up by traditional media yet. Too boring.

1.3 million children in the region are suffering from acute malnutrition, with 400,000 suffering from the most severe form. Just numbers, really.

I'm going over there to make them not just numbers.

All those airport security screens and they'll just let me waltz through with the biggest weapon of all .... the Truth.


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Write to be understood, speak to be heard. - Lawrence Powell

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