If Not Now, Then When?

May 10th

Picacho Peak Arizona

I took this photo of Picacho Peak this weekend on my drive from Phoenix to Tucson. I’ve climbed this mountain with my parents and brother, and eaten ice cream cones at the Dairy Queen in its shadow more than once. It is its prettiest in March when wildflowers make it dazzle in shades of yellow and orange.

I’ve had a good bit of time lately to consider moving. I love Arizona. It is where my grandparents live, my dear friends are raising their families and is the backdrop for nearly all of my memories in the last 26 years. Simply put, Arizona is home.
And yet, in the last year I’ve watched my parents move away, a relationship crumble and my job become increasingly difficult. I try desperately to be someone who complains once about a problem and then works to find a solution. I’m surely “glass half full” to the point of annoyance to those around me. So consider this my official complaint: I am bored.
I need something new and exciting in my life and I’ve got the instinctual feeling that the time to act is now. I know that my last experience living abroad alone was unbearable and I’m more than a touch hesitant to pull out my passport for a major move again. However, I read about some of these international health crises and I ache to be there, to feel like I’m doing something to help. So, don’t tell my father, but today I applied for a job in the Sudan.
Dad, I’m not kidding. Stop reading now.
Sudan! That country with janjaweed and refugee camps overflowing and international health workers being hacked to death. The country where more than 1 million people are dead and my senators aren’t doing a damn thing about it. I’ve been writing them letters now for, oh, say two years. If I get one more canned response from Jon Kyl I am going to throw up. I’d bet the aide who licked the stamp couldn’t find Sudan on a map if his/her life depended on it. The funny thing is, so many lives do depend on a reaction. Silence is acceptance so world hear me now: I am not willing to accept what is happening in Sudan, Zimbabwe, Iraq, Palestine or North Korea.
I know. I’m insane. But I somehow feel like if I get the job, it’s a sign. It is time for a change. It’s time for adventure. It’s time to get out from behind this desk and use the basic public health knowledge I’ve got rattling about in my brain to use in the field.
Before I get off of this soap box of high morality and supreme bravado, I’ll be the first to admit being that far away from a knitting shop would suck. And I’m pretty sure my sewing machine or bundt pans couldn’t come along either. (Although strangely enough the job is to teach women how to use solar ovens and other basic tools for microeconomic projects. So technically, maybe there is a need for my rudimentary baking skills.)
The continuing journey to finding balance between my passions remains a struggle.


Posted in
Africa, Arizona, Public Health
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15 Responses

  1. Christina May 10, 2006

    Wow….You don’t know me, and I can’t begin to explain to you how I found your blog as I was surfing through lots of random knitting blogs, but I had to comment. I feel like you reached into my brain and picked out half of what I have been thinking lately. I identify with the boredom and horrible things going on around the world and wanting to do something about it….haha, and even with telling your dad not to keep reading! I watched Beyond Borders last night (again..) (if you haven’t seen it, it’s great and right along with what you’re talking about) and in the feature of UNHCR and Angelina Jolie she says that any person who sees those things would want to do more. I can’t go overseas this year..I would love to, but can’t. But I am starting to organize here to work with other people with refugees and other immigrants we have here in town.
    So, all this (and it’s a lot, sorry) just to encourage you. I admire your desire to stretch yourself to help others. I’m sure you will have a great impact.

  2. Wow! That is amazing I wish you luck and if you go and think that care-packages containing baked goods & yarn from the states would reach you, I’d be the first to send. You inspire, as always.

    I’m bored too – any ideas?

  3. I would have applied too. . .

  4. Kel, I know you may get grief for putting this out there, but you absolutely have to do what makes you happy in the world. And there’s nothing that says that if you go you can’t come BACK some day, you know? But Arizona sure would feel empty without you….

  5. BOO! stop cheering her on! GOD.

  6. I second Amanda. Bon Jovi even agrees (my favorite song off his new album is “Who Says You Can’t Go Back”).
    But a huge part of me, the one making tears well up in my eyes, if sooo fearful. And man, that is FA.AR!

    Though, I could come visit for months at a time in the summer. I will bring yarn, peanut butter, and other American luxuries.

    But seriously, is there not a closer, less scary place you could do your humanitarian work? 🙁

    You know I’m behind whatever happens, but I would be terribly sad to have you so far away.
    Love you!

  7. Kelli, I applaud you. Whether you end up going or not, how wonderful that you are listening to your heart.

  8. jenntraveler May 11, 2006

    I’m so proud. Africa, and this world, needs you.

  9. Sudan!?! SUDAN!?!

    Why not just move to Dangerstan or the Republic of HostileTerritory?

    (posted as a service to your Father)

  10. Kelli,

    You are such an inspiration. I am honored to know you.


  11. YOU ROCK!

    We MUST keep in touch about this! I am traveling to the states next week and will email you when I get settled!

  12. Good God, Woamn – you are incredible. And strong.

    I wish you the best of luck with whatever you decide to do. I also wish you health, safety and all that if you do decide to go to Sudan.

  13. I have only one thing to say: Follow your heart, no matter what! I know people who, one day, leaved all they had behind and went abroad to help those in need, and I have to say, I truly know they are far more happier now then they were before, and they never regretted their decision. So, go on with your life and with what you think it’s better for you now. My best whishes, and I’ll keep you in my thoughts.

  14. Wow–just found you via a link of a link. Good for you, and thank you, for doing this.

  15. Google is the best search engine