This month marks a significant milestone for me. Therefore I want to take a brief moment to slow down and celebrate what God has done. It continues to be one of the greatest privileges of my life to serves as the Creative and Communications Lead at Tearfund/Compassion New Zealand and I stand in awe and amazement that I get to do this.
Work wise, this has been the place where I’ve grown up… I moved into this “house” a decade ago when I was 27, explored my creative gifts here, was eventually given a voice at the management table and encouraged to step up and lead in new ways here. But first let’s take a brief moment to talk about Day 1 on the job because it really does deserve a mention.
day at Tearfund/Compassion was in Kolkuta, India visiting a small fraction of
the 2 million children in our sponsorship projects. Later that afternoon I headed
to a florist in the middle of the city. I was told on arrival to ask to use the
florist’s phone and to call a certain number. Then, two men would escort me to
a secret location down the street so that I could learn more about Tearfund’s
partners work in the city to fight sex trafficking. Seemed legit. #bestmeetingever.
Since then I’ve had almost every immunization on the planet for every possible tropical disease. I’ve travelled to countless countries photographing, interviewing and helping write up campaigns and appeals for the people that will benefit.
A few of my most memorable moments on the job:
- Hosting TV3 for the one-year anniversary of the Rohingya Crisis in Bangladesh. With over 1 million people living within 10 square kilometres, it was incredible to see them bring this story live to New Zealand TV screens and raise hundreds of thousands.
into Mosul on the border of Syria and Iraq with one of Tearfund’s partners and
being told to stay within 200 metres of the vehicle at all times and carry a chemical
gas weapons mask with me.
tracked and chased out of Sri Lanka’s war torn North by the local FBI and
having to send our photos and videos back – by post.
into Vanuatu three days after Cyclone Pam decimated the island for the Integral
Alliance whilst 9 weeks pregnant.
6 years of my time at Tearfund living and working out of Uganda.
in amazement the work of Compassion to stop child slaves working on Lake Volta
with New Zealand’s largest NGO’s on a national campaign called Live Below the
Line that brought in just over a million dollars for our work to end modern
launch New Zealand’s first Ethical Fashion Guide
most recently, leading and working alongside the most incredible Creative team
of passionate, crazy talented people on countless campaigns, appeals and
disasters to bring desperately needed help to those that need it most.
Over the years I’ve been doing this,
I’ve been genuinely scared for my life, cried buckets of tears with the people
I’ve interviewed, and thanked God every time for the privilege.
There’s a quote that
“Sometimes I’d like to ask God why He allows poverty, suffering, and
injustice when He could do something about it. But, I’m afraid he’d ask me the
same question.” I think about this quote all the time.
What has kept me doing this kind of work is primarily my faith in a God
that asks us to be his hands and feet on the earth. A God that cares
deeply for this heaving mess of humanity. I’ve never taken one photo, story or
campaign for granted and I am prayerful as I try my hardest to preserve dignity
whilst showing tremendous human need. It is one of the greatest joys of my life
to offer my humble skills and watch him bring to living colour the things He
holds close to his heart.
In a world full of plastic and throw away’s, in a world full of “If it doesn’t work for me, I’m out”, I find there’s something really beautiful about longevity. About sticking it out. Investing one’s life in a cause. Pouring out your life for something, for someone.
I feel like there’s a rocket on the inside of me and it burns fierce. I am deeply passionate about this work. Ann Voskamp says “Compassion isn’t merely a vague sense – but a feeling so strong it causes you to bend. It shapes your body, your whole life, into a response”. There’s nothing I would rather do. I am humbled beyond belief to be entrusted to do it.
This is what I
know after ten years.
- Those of us that have a front row seat to the
devastation will one day have a front row seat to the restoration. I believe that with all my heart.
- Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you haven’t. The longer I’m in this work the more I realize just
how difficult some people have it. I
stand in awe at what the poor have to carry.
- Just because I work for a charity doesn’t make me better than anyone
else. Who do you
think pays for charities to stay afloat and help people? It’s the bankers, the stockbrokers,
the teachers, the doctors, the truck drivers and retail staff. Solving big
global issues takes all of us.
- God sustains this work. Not me, not my team. God.
- I’ve never seen a situation where there was no hope. Truly, I tell you. In every country I’ve ever been to
and with every story I’ve ever heard, there is always something to be hopeful
Under the Tearfund roof I’ve experienced things I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams. And even though I’ve been “grounded by a pandemic” these last two years, perhaps the thing I’m most proud of is the fact that during this season we’ve been building a strong foundational team from the ground up filled with young people that are going to shape this organisation moving forward. We’re growing, sharing the load and, Lord willing, soon we’ll be back out there telling the stories that need to be told.
I can’t promise I’ll work here
forever. But I can tell you, no matter how long I’m here or there or
everywhere, Tearfund/Compassion will always be home for me.