We're incredibly proud to announce that Odisi has been selected from over 3,000 applicants as an Echoing Green semi-finalist! You can see the full list here.
The process of writing the application helped us articulate some of the core values we strive to uphold everyday throughout our work, and what we discovered is this: it always comes down to courage. It's in the most difficult moments that we shrink our worldview to our singular existence and the isolating qualities of pain. But ultimately, it is the process of expanding perspective to acknowledge our small part in the larger world that allows us to continue through difficulties. To overcome, we learn to grow bigger than the suffering.
Humanitarian work is challenging. Many people who go into it with the misguided notion that they are "saving the world" are really just trying to save themselves. When this happens, ego clouds reason, progress slows, and goals become opaque. To endure with clarity, you have to love the process as much as you celebrate the results. You also have to be able to pick yourself up after everything falls apart because invariably, it will. Vincent Cochetel, Director of the Bureau for Europe at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), describes this beautifully in his moving TED Talk:
Until then, I had assumed that they [beneficiary communities] know why we are there and what we are doing. One cannot assume this. Well, explaining why we do this is not that easy, even to our closest relatives. We are not perfect, we are not superior, we are not the world's fire brigade, we are not superheroes, we don't stop wars, we know that humanitarian response is not a substitute for political solution. Yet we do this because one life matters. Sometimes that's the only difference you make -- one individual, one family, a small group of individuals -- and it matters. When you have a tsunami, an earthquake or a typhoon, you see teams of rescuers coming from all over the world, searching for survivors for weeks. Why? Nobody questions this. Every life matters, or every life should matter. This is the same for us when we help refugees, people displaced within their country by conflict, or stateless persons,
I know many people, when they are confronted by overwhelming suffering, they feel powerless and they stop there. It's a pity, because there are so many ways people can help. We don't stop with that feeling. We try to do whatever we can to provide some assistance, some protection, some comfort. We have to. We can't do otherwise. It's what makes us feel, I don't know, simply human.
The talk is worth watching in its entirety and chronicles the 317 days Cochetel spent in 1998 as a hostage in Chechnya.