Pin It
Pages Menu
TwitterFacebook
Categories Menu

Posted by on Jan 7, 2016 in Inspirational | 15 comments

I can’t write about traveling and fun while half of the world is starving

I can’t write about traveling and fun while half of the world is starving

I can’t write about traveling and fun while half of the world is starving or trying to escape war zones.

Yes, if you have been following my blog, you probably noticed it has been over two months since my last post. You might have also noticed I moved from very impersonal articles to more and more intimate and personal ones, sometimes filled with strong emotions like the “How Malapascua island restored my faith in humanity” , the reasons I can’t be a nomadic girl forever or an emotional post about the refugees of Syria “when traveling is a matter of life or death“.

If you followed my FB posts while I was in Asia, you probably remember my comments, where I confessed feeling terrible for the horrendous situation of the refugees trying to enter Europe. Feeling terrible for the fact that I was allowed to travel and move around the world smoothly as a tourist while hundreds of thousands of people were not even allowed to legally escape their country in a desperate attempt to save their lives.

 

Migrant men help a fellow migrant man holding a boy as they are stuck between Macedonian riot police officers and migrants during a clash near the border train station of Idomeni, northern Greece, as they wait to be allowed by the Macedonian police to cross the border from Greece to Macedonia, Friday, Aug. 21, 2015. Macedonian special police forces have fired stun grenades to disperse thousands of migrants stuck on a no-man's land with Greece, a day after Macedonia declared a state of emergency on its borders to deal with a massive influx of migrants heading north to Europe. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic) (Darko Vojinovic)

Migrant men help a fellow migrant man holding a boy as they are stuck between Macedonian riot police officers and migrants during a clash near the border train station of Idomeni, northern Greece, as they wait to be allowed by the Macedonian police to cross the border from Greece to Macedonia, Friday, Aug. 21, 2015. Macedonian special police forces have fired stun grenades to disperse thousands of migrants stuck on a no-man’s land with Greece, a day after Macedonia declared a state of emergency on its borders to deal with a massive influx of migrants heading north to Europe. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic) (Darko Vojinovic)

 

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t feel guilty for my freedom, or for my rights. I feel ashamed that there are second classes citizens, that half of the world can’t benefit from the same freedom as I do, that some of these refugees are sometimes received with anger and violence once they reach a safer destination. I’m angry because I can’t understand why aren’t we all first class citizens?! Why are we all still divided by color, religion and importance depending on the country we were born?

 

An artist works on a sand sculpture depicting drowned Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi at Puri beach, some 65 km from Bhubaneswar, India, on Friday. | AFP-JIJI

An artist works on a sand sculpture depicting drowned Syrian boy Aylan Kurdi at Puri beach, some 65 km from Bhubaneswar, India, on Friday. | AFP-JIJI

 

Why should an European, North American, Australian or Canadian be any better than a Syrian?  Why are Muslim encountering difficulties and suspicion all over the world while Christians seem to go anywhere without much problems? What’s going on with the world? Why has Men managed to go to the moon, invent all sorts of technological advances but can’t seem to work its way around the most basic of things, which is solidarity, empathy and togetherness?

 

Children chanting Syrian freedom songs. Aleppo.

Children chanting Syrian freedom songs. Aleppo.

 

All my attempts to write articles about my adventures in Asia have collapsed to the constant news of suffering around the world.  Suddenly my incredible photos on a tropical island in the Philippines, the incredible nightlife of Hong Kong and the articles about the magic temples of Thailand became nothing but shallow words to me. I felt terribly shallow. I found myself on another crossroad; how could I possibly make a difference? How could I possibly write meaningful things instead of the typical “quit your job and travel the world” generic fluffy stuff I always avoided writing about.

 

As a citizen of the world with over 17 years of traveling around as a solo female traveler, I’ve learned to love and cherish diversity.  I live to experience the different aspects of our lovely world. I’ve been welcomed with both arms open in most of the countries I’ve traveled to. I’ve experienced generosity, hospitality and kindness everywhere I went to. Why can’t my country show the same level of kindness for the ones in need? Why can’t my continent do more for the ones  who risk their lives on a daily basis in search for temporary peace? Why can’t we all, Humans start walking the same path, to a better, more humane and sensitive society where justice and peace can finally become the norm?

 

15 Comments

  1. I know how you feel. Here we are, writing about our adventures when millions upon millions are starving and suffering. But the thing here is that we can’t fix or be guilty of all the world’s problems.

    We can shine a light though, in our own way. And blogging about our trips and adventures is one way to do it. In a world saturated with news about destruction, murder, violence, hunger, discrimination, etc., we, as travel bloggers, are giving people a glimpse of hope and beauty that shines through the gloom.

    • Maybe the answer lies in finding a balance between inspiring people to live a better, more fulfilling life as well as educating and showing that we, as individuals count and can make a difference. I really believe that folks like us who travel extensively have learned to appreciate the beauty of diversity and i believe discrimination would have an end if we could understand that we’re all inter-connected.

  2. In my understanding, we choose our lives before we are born in order to learn a lesson for ourselves or to be an example for someone else. Whether it be an example of what TO do or what NOT to do. Either way a lesson will either be learned or exemplified. From what you have written here, I can only surmise that you have not only learned a valuable lesson in humanity but also taught us one as well. You my dear are doing double duty in your present incarnation. This must have been your plan before you decided to “come back” for another try at this “physical experience” thing. I have been following you for a few yrs now. I can truly say you are an excellent example of a conscious human being. Please forgive yourself for being blessed and continue to set the example for the rest of us.
    May the universe continue to reveal itself to you.

    Rik Huffman

    • Oh gosh Rik Huffman, i got goose bumps all over my body when I read your message. I was just reading one of Brian Weiss’s books a couple of weeks ago while I was in southern Portugal and the message was very clear – we choose our paths before we return to this world on our human form.

      It might be true that these people also chose that path of hardship and suffering in order to allow us, more “privileged” folks to experience compassion, empathy and solidarity. And in my opinion, it’s our moral duty as privileged folks who live in countries with no wars or hunger to raise our voices and alleviate the pain and suffering from our brothers and sisters who are going through hell. I’m very aware of this and I have a hard time understanding why others are not.

      Seems like most won’t bother about the mess in the world unless it reaches their backyard. Maybe because people don’t see the whole world as their backyard. Sometimes I resist to the idea that some might have chosen such a painful path to reincarnate, but maybe while we’re on the other side, we forget how pain and suffering feels like. I don’t know. Thank you so much for your words and for sharing your thoughts with me. You have no idea how deeply they’ve touched me. It’s so hard to have the chance to take a conversation to a much deeper level usually that I really appreciate your message

  3. As someone who loves travelling but who also works in international development, trying my best to contribute reducing the injustices in the world, I could really resonate with your post. Even working full-time in this area, I sometimes feel paralyzed that I can’t do enough, and I just don’t understand why some people just don’t care about these issues. If it hadn’t been for the little boy being washed up by the beach, I wonder if so many people would have been pro refugees? I think the problem is also that they feel that governments are responsible for crises like this and so they should sort them out. A lot of people don’t realize how powerful civil society can be and that each and every single one of us can do our part, whether it is signing a petition, writing to your local MP, to presidents, highlighting social injustices on our social media channels, or donating money to NGOs who try to reduce the suffering. Gandhi once said: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”. He proved that one single man can change so much. Maybe it is time that more people follow suit.

    • What you just said it’s very true, if it wasn’t for the death of that little boy at the beach, I doubt people would have got their asses out of their home and march on pro refugee demonstrations.

      We can’t change the world alone, but we can change a lot of things around us. Every person counts and just as you say civil society has a tremendous power, specially now that social media give us a voice.

      Thank you so much for your words, they made my day.

  4. Love these personal and emotional articles that you write. I discovered your website a few months ago and this is one of the reasons I keep following you, so don’t stop. It makes you human, caring, open-minded, preoccupied about what happens in the world. It shows that all those traveling years made you a better person and even an inspiration to others.
    I observe the same adversity towards Muslims and refugees in my country. Most Romanians have no real idea about the conflicts in the Middle East, they don’t understand the Muslim culture and are not that interested in doing it either. It’s kind of…we have our own issues here, why should we care about others. The ones that really know more are those who spent some time living in the Middle East, have partners or friends from those countries. Romania doesn’t have a top passport like other Western countries, but we are still privileged by being an EU member and not needing visas in many places around the world.

    • You’re so right, Romania is still somehow in a between status and I know for a fact Romanians suffer a lot of discrimination from other European countries. I’ve been to Romania and fell in love with it, hopefully will return to visit smaller villages and the country side.

      The Muslim scare is a mass media product, specially now that there are many interests in keeping European citizens refugees of fear. Since most attacks taken place within Europe have all been done by European citizens, the whole paranoia with the immigrants makes little sense to me. But the problem is very complex and it might take a couple of generations to cool down, because all these children that are now growing up in the middle of this war and injustices will have too many scars to heal from.

      Eu are privileged, it’s a fact. What we take for granted in many cases and don’t even value (food, shelter, education, health care) is an intangible reality for most of the world.

      Thank you for your words and for sharing your thoughts. I intent to write more personal stuff from now on. I think that’s the way to go. <3

  5. I have traveled more than many, certainly not as much as you. My first spiritual moment, as was my second, was in a Buddhist Temple. My most challenging moment was in Ethiopia, Lower Omo valley, where nomadic tribes were forcibly settled in reservations where the dutch could build modern hotels but the tribes were specifically denied the right to farm or build. Now I find I object strongly to the increasing forced FGM being carried out in Syria, Islam code closing UK tourist attractions for “Islamic dress days” while women and children are forcibly separated from their men and sexually assaulted , in some cases gang raped, in cities across the globe during national traditional celebrations. I have supported mothers protect their daughters from FGM in West Africa. Campaigned presidential offices for improvement in basic schooling and technical training and womens rights. However I cannot support the mass unchecked migration of refugees, mostly men with unknown backgrounds and intentions into the so called “free” western world. An ideal hidden deep within these groups is the destruction of the ideals of freedom of speech, equality of gender and race and thought.
    I have to agree with you that everyone who has the funds and freedom to travel should recognise not everyone in the world does have those funds and freedom. Maybe they should have, but they do not have the right to invasde and remove those rights and freedoms from those who have them.
    I am currently resident in Bulgaria, To get the residential permit I had to sign a document to the effect that I had the income to support myself and my dependents while in the country, and produce a statement from the bank with a stated minimum balance. Specifically excluded was the right to claim any funds for support from the Bulgarian State. for my travel Visas to Africa I have to show a return booked flight or other means of leaving the country.
    As female rights activists will know, behaving in a way unacceptable to the “scholars of Islam and Islamic ‘decency’ police, imams and so on, breaking the mores of a country or cultural / religous zone can mean death. Somewhere there is a way to educate though the morass belief beyond reason. Find and teach that way to a future in which we are all free and you will be a teacher worth listening to.

    • Wow, Geoff, thank you for sharing those experiences with me. I had no idea about the situation of the nomadic tribes in Ethiopia. That’s so unfair and often makes me thing about the negative impact foreign interests have in specific areas.

      As far as the inequalities, dressing code and other issues in certain Muslim countries: I’m not a Muslim or a christian, therefore I’m 100% neutral in my opinions and I confess I don’t know much about the laws and rules written in the Quran, but my understanding is that most of those issues are actually more related to the local culture of a specific country that the religion itself.

      For example we have Saudi Arabia which is extreme and then we have Turkey which is super laid back. Most of the muslim females I have met through work or at school wanted to wear the hijab even against their parent’s will, which I thought was curious. They were independent, self confident women. The burqa on the other hand, I see it as an offense to the freedom of females and to be honest I totally condemn it. I remember watching women trying to have lunch in restaurants with a full burqa on and it was heartbreaking, the struggle they went through just to put a spoon of food in their mouths.

      Still, let’s not get fooled by the freedoms and “equalities” in the west. Women are still NOT equal to men. We are still lower and suffer discrimination and harassment every day, we’re just used to it and became part of our culture. There’s no such thing as racial equality neither. White middle class still rules most of the western societies while blacks, latinos, arabs, etc live at ghettos, shanty towns, poor suburbs.

      I think we just have different issues to deal with in different cultures and countries. Life for me is pretty easy in Europe, being a white middle class girl, but for a gypsy, a black immigrant, life is not that easy anymore. Although I’m not pro indiscriminate opening of the borders for absolutely everyone without some order, I’m a strong believer that these desperate Syrians should be able to apply for a refugee status in their own country. Europe would have more control on who arrives and these people wouldn’t have to risk their lives on the sea, watch their children die, and the few criminals who are trafficking the refugees make a fortune our of people’s despair would lose their power.

  6. I don’t think we should feel guilty about being able to travel or writing about it. I think the key is for travel bloggers to write more about issues like this. If we didn’t travel at all, there would be an even bigger gap between us Westerners and the rest of the world. Traveling makes us more aware about what’s going on in the world and this awareness is what’s needed for more people to act on solving these problems. As travelers we are in a position where we can see problems around the world first hand but we often block them because we want to enjoy our travels. But if we’d look a little deeper we’d see that not only are there problems, there’s also people who are trying to solve these problems. I really like the post you wrote about the people on Malapascua for example. You don’t have to be wherever the “biggest” crisis is at the moment according to media, there’s problems everywhere and people fighting to solve these problems, and these are the truly inspiring stories.

  7. Yara, I know exactly how you feel. But never forget that by writing a travel blog, about your experiences around the world or even with foreign people in your own country, you are also promoting tolerance, mixing of cultures, etc.. Sure, we are not saving the world with travel blogs, but they do help readers see that the world is, in its vast majority a good place, with good people.. it’s not all wars, death or negativity. Don’t stop sharing your stories! :)

  8. Thanks for writing this. I can relate to this, and often feel similar things when I travel. I had a vacation to the Philippines soon after the taiphoon hit them a few years ago, and I had struggled whether I should go through with the trip or not. I ended up going and it was great to contribute a little to the relief efforts and to talk to people who were living through the aftermath. It’s hard to imagine a time when there won’t be awful things going on somewhere in the world, but I think it’s everyones responsibility to keep hope for the future alive.

  9. Much respect for this post. It is very sobering and important to understand.

Leave a Reply