re-entry

15 July 2008 Comments

i've been out for a month now, and thought a lot about what i would like to say here to end things. and i'm still not sure, but i'll try to sort it out before this is too rambly.

leaving dhaka was what i expected; sweet relief mixed with intense sadness. and after 24 hours of travel i made it to amsterdam, with plans to drink beer on a patio, instead, i went to sleep. de-briefing with the team at headquarters was manic to say the least. i had agreed to brief for my next mission at the same time so that we could save on time and flights. and since that was done last minute... there were a lot of people i wasn't scheduled to see. i pretty much spent the two days running between floors, tracking down advisors, and cornering people in hallways. i really did get a lot of info in a little bit of time though, so was a success.

and then, boom! here i am. back in canada. back with friends and family. i got to meet my nephew! (and i think i can safely say i have the cutest nephew in the world - trust me! or at least don't challenge me... i'm a new auntie, i'm fairly infatuated with him). was even home in time for my dad's surgery, which i am so happy to have been able to be here for (all went great).

i've emailed back and forth with my former colleagues in the field - and knowing what was going on was both wonderful, and devestating. my family and friends are great, they don't mind when i feel the need to share with them stories from across the world. but i don't know if you ever really leave properly. there's a distancing process for sure, but i never stop feeling connected to the people i've worked for.

but i don't find reentry to be particularily hard. i relish being back home with friends and family. i've done this enough times that i know things won't be the same. i mean, my sister turned into a mommy! wowza! but here are a few things that did strike me when i came home, and i've decided to share them with you.

a supermarket in the heart of a refugee camp:

while hanging at my sister and her husband's house (taking care of baby so they can do things like shower, talk to each other), i felt the need for snacks. so off we went to the little corner store by the house. and it was insane! it had so much food, so much Stuff! it was overwhelming, and we grew up here. so a bit later when i saw a sign for a refugee resource group, i couldn't help but think just how incredibly overwhelming this country must be for people. if 15 months in bangladesh could set me up for the supermarket shock (and i lived in dhaka), what would a lifetime in tal camp do? i can't imagine the shock, confusion and bewilderment a city like mine would create. so while i'd never dismissed them or thought them to be unnecessary, my respect and support for the people who are committed to providing resettlement services to refugess skyrocketed.

(and the title is a reference to a program going on right now, a refugee camp in the heart of the city, go to http://www.refugeecamp.org/home/ for more info).

to poke or not to poke:

my nephew and i have something in common right now... needles. vaccinations are a fun part of the expat (and newborn) life. well, not just fun, but important. last week, i was lucky enough to get jabbed with a booster that i needed. and yes, i did feel like warmed over crud for a day or two (which just means its working... sigh), but, i'm quite happy to be protected. and while i joke that i'm now vaccinated enough to be able to juggle raccons with rusty chainsaws while licking a park bench, i'm really careful to make sure my doctor checks my records every year. so imagine my shock when my sister told me that there were people in north america, parents specifically, who were seriously campaigning against vaccines for their children. i had read an aritcle in a science magazine about this, so i knew the history (and i know what the science says!), but to learn it continues... stunner. this is one of those things that i would be embarassed to talk about in the field. i would be ashamed to tell a mother who walked for hours to get her children vaccinated, that some people in my country don't want it, even though it's available. i would be horrified to say this to a woman who had witnessed what outbreaks looked like, had lost family members. i just wouldn't know what to say.

and let's get this straight, i am fully in favour of people taking an active part of their health plan. asking the doctors lots of questions, finding out what they can... and ye old second opinion. but what i find scary is that there is so much misinformation out there and that people read it like they would read scientific research. and on a basic level, that people seem to have forgotten what these diseases are, and what they can do.

we are so lucky to have the access to healthcare that we have. after seeing people who are literally dying for healthcare, i find it hard to understand why people would ignore it. ok. off the soapbox now.

oh my mountains:

i love this land. i love the mountains. i love the lakes. i was lucky enough to wrap up the amazing times with family and friends with a drive over the mountains, and i just couldn't stop loving it. i think this photo will say it all.