I have been home from my last stint volunteering overseas for two months now and I still haven’t written a darn thing. Actually, I didn’t write much at all while I was in Lebanon this past trip compared to my first two jaunts overseas to volunteer. Back then I wrote daily for my friends on my Facebook page and on my Be Kind To Refugees page and put stories up on my blog. I was passionate about getting the word out and making people aware of what is going on out there in the big bad world. But in the three months I spent this time in Lebanon I rarely wrote. Of course, it can be chalked up to I was kept very busy with volunteer projects and had extremely bad wifi – for this is much is true. It certainly isn’t because I lack for material. Heck, I have pages upon pages of notes. I have many stories to tell – some are terribly tragic, some are incredibly hopeful and inspiring. I have a collection of great interviews with displaced families who have managed to start businesses, interviews with some kickass volunteers from all over the world and I even collected some yummy recipes to share.
Today, on the two-month anniversary of my return home I was determined to write. I have now sucked back two pots of coffee, innumerous cigarettes, shuffled through pages of notes, opened my web browser and got lost in a tangle of research related sites – I think now I have only twenty tabs left open – I’ve downsized.
Why can’t I write?
- I have too many stories and do not know which ones to choose or what angle to take.
- I have too many pictures to remind me of the stories. I have 6000 – seriously, between my phone and my camera. I have given up trying to sort them.
- It was easier to write before when I spewed out whatever I felt like spewing. I didn’t care about gearing it to a specific audience. Now I have a blog and a book and a publisher who wants me to write another. It’s daunting.
- The topic is depressing. I’m depressed. I cannot write about a depressing topic when I am depressed. It is important to stay hopeful, to give hope and have it shine through your writing.
After working on the refugee crisis for the last one and half years I think I got myself a bit of PTSD. Where else can you work (not being in the emergency services/healthcare field) and meet, not one but three different survivors of sniper shots to the head? Hell, before I didn’t even know you could survive such a shot to the head.
And how about those orphans? I don’t cry easily when I am working overseas but my first trip to the orphanage got me big time. I really had to work to hold back the tears so the children wouldn’t see. It was a wonderful, nurturing orphanage. The children were well looked after by some amazing, caring people. The children were actually quite lucky compared to the many in the informal settlement camps. These children were well fed, clothed and educated. And, the school had allowed Salam LADC to bring in a music therapy program for the children to participate in. It was a good orphanage yet I just couldn’t stop looking at their little faces thinking how they had no parents, no relatives to care for them. Another volunteer said, “You should see the orphanages in the Ukraine. Imagine walking into a place with forty children including young toddlers who should be too young to understand and it is complete silence. Imagine what they do to the children for there to be complete silence.”
Augh! Why does the world allow such horrors?
Yes, some of the stories are sad but they must be written so that perhaps one day something will be done to stop them. I will try again tomorrow.
ps. Hopefully, we will get some sunshine soon, this rain really sucks.
pps. I do not really have PTSD. I know it well, my son has it and it is an awful thing to suffer.
ppps. If you haven’t bought my book, here is the link. Please do me a solid and write a review. Helping Refugees on a Greek Island: How Volunteers Make a Difference