Slum Doctor Programme

Why We Can’t Stop Caring
October 18, 2007, 1:02 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

One thing I have noticed being an intern for a nonprofit that works to better the lives individuals, is that it is easy to forget I am working to better the lives of individuals. It is easy to forget that the point of the work is to help people who live thousands of miles away, and have completely different lives than we do. The reason organizations like Slum Doctor Programme exist is because there is pain in the world, we see injustice, we see sickness, and something in us needs to help. Oftentimes I sit at my computer and trick myself into thinking the reason I am at the office is to sit in front of the computer and do various daily tasks. I don’t see AIDS orphans on a daily basis. Girls from rural Kenya do not swing by our office to ask us for an education. We must rely on some kind of reminders of why we care, of what got us involved into this work, of what most of the world lives like.

I don’t need to try to forget about injustice, sickness and poverty, it simply slips my mind sometimes, even when I am immersed in the work itself. I have found that the nature of life, the temperament of humans, is to lose enthusiasm about things, even if they are things that are worth doing. We need to fight the urge to forget, to lose enthusiasm, to let the hope and optimism disappear amongst our busy daily lives.

Four years ago (I am only 22) I started to really see the world for the first time, and I saw the desperate need for more people to do something to improve the state of humanity. I grew up in a farming community in Mid-Michigan that wasn’t exactly the most aware and progressive place on earth. People simply didn’t talk about the hope we needed to bring to Kenya or Uganda. Eventually though, I became passionate about the fact that we needed to help AIDS orphans, heal poor communities, bring hope to the hopeless places on earth. But one thing I have found, is the longer I stay connected in the work, the more often it becomes numb to me and the fire needs to be reignited. That’s exactly why we need events like Party With A Purpose (shameless plug), great documentaries like We Are Together (, another shameless plug), people in our lives we can talk to and get encouragement from, pictures that remind us of our passion and the need for the work – anything that jogs our memory of why we care.

Personally, I am going to find a picture that reminds me I’m not at a normal nine to five job where the products we sell do nothing to help the world become a better place. I’m going to print the picture and put it on my computer, and when I am feeling apathetic and hopeless, I’m going to look at the picture and think about the stories of the girls at Ombogo, the orphans at Rabuor, the widows at the Busoga Shining Light Association, and the millions of individuals who could use a little hope.




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You would think it would be easier to stay enthusiastic and passionate about helping others when they are suffering just outside your doorstep. When they are coming to you daily asking for your help, asking for your money and mercy. But living in Bangladesh for the past three months, even in the midst of suffering, when beggars follow me from shop to shop around the city, it is still easy to become numb, apathic and forget about seeking justice. Perhaps because it is so real, it is not just a picture that you can send money to and then forget about. It is thousands, millions of people who are struggling to find food each day all around you, and it is simply easier to mindlessly walk past, because to put forth the emotional energy to really think about the situation is sometimes too disturbing and might just ruin your day – you get the conviction that the quality of life these people experience is humane, and then you think about the relative luxury you enjoy, often at their expense. And then comes the internal battle and the ideas of selling all your nice things and serving the poor, along with all that would require. Yes, it’s definatly much easier not to think about. So the real challenge, wherever we are in the world, in to continue to push ourselves to go there, to resist the urge to mindlessly and comfortably go about our work.

Comment by Emily

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