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Some of the best of what we humans do

February 4, 2010

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Mercy Corps Iraq  </span>
    Ahmed Abed, a taxi driver in Iraq, inspired our staff by refusing payment for driving Iraqi youth to a blood bank to donate blood for bomb survivors. Photo: Mercy Corps Iraq

Every morning I wake up, grab a cup of hot tea, then read a newspaper filled with stories about some of the worst of what we as humans do. And then I get to spend my workday hearing about some of the best.

When I tell people where I work, the most common response is “Wow, how great of you that you are doing such wonderful humanitarian work!” But the truth is, this does not feel like some noble sacrifice or burden. It is a blast. Nearly every day something happens that deeply inspires me — and yesterday was no exception.

When I'm not traveling in the Middle East to meet with the youth leaders Mercy Corps is working with, I sit in our small Seattle office and talk away on my computer with youth and staff we work with around the world. Yesterday, a little kid — no more than eight years old — walked into our office with his mom, unannounced, and told us he just raised $2,500 to help kids in Haiti. Not only that, but he wants to know how he can help more.

Like I said, deeply inspiring.

And just his morning, I received a photo of Ahmed Abed, an Iraqi taxi driver who recently refused to accept two days of wages for driving dozens of youth leaders we work with in Iraq to a blood bank in Wassit, Iraq, so they could give blood for the first time. “I want to participate in this humanitarian campaign and this is the one thing I can give to help the people,” he said.

Because we work in some of the toughest places around the world, we run into unusual problems daily. Today Mohammed, a local Iraqi staffer, told us that he likely will not be able to travel to Scotland for our first international youth summit next month (where youth from the Middle East, United States and United Kingdom will gather) because he can’t get into Baghdad safely to get a visa. They just had their fourth terrorist attack in Baghdad this week, killing dozens more earlier this week.

Instead, we will plan today how we will do a live video conference between the youth in Iraq and the youth that will travel to Scotland next month. Violence might keep Mohammed from traveling to the summit, but it can’t keep the summit from traveling to Mohammed and the youth leaders in Iraq!