How did we get here?

I stocked up on books in anticipation of this. Downloaded a few movies and shows I’ve been looking forward to watching. You’d think by now I’d have long haul travel down. But we just started to taxi down the runway and I realize that I’m distracted. Not in a bad way. I keep thinking about the destination. Bangladesh. I can’t wait to see Zhadida again. I’m excited about the course we’ll be teaching and checking in with the Rohingya refugee camp. That sounds odd, I know. But the people and the place have struck a chord with me. Or maybe it’s that it counters the helplessness I feel about the current situation in Haiti. Either way, I’m excited.

The path that has led me and Team Broken Earth here reaffirms my belief that we all connected in some way. And that universe itself is a map of paths crossing, hopefully for the better. It certainly is in this case. It’s been 6 years since Zhadida and I first met in England. Two people from different backgrounds, miles from home, farther from their comfort zones in a country somewhat foreign to us both. Yet we connected. I think we saw in each other both the want and the will to make the world a better place.

This will be my fifth trip to Bangladesh. One thought that keeps coming back to me is this idea, this question of how did we get here? I think about how different our two organizations are, how different our countries are. A half a world apart. Day versus night in time zones. Completely different weather. They have cyclones, we have snowstorms. Even different sports obsessions… for us, it’s hockey, for them it is cricket.

Even geographically, our two countries are so dramatically different. Bangladesh has a landmass of 150,000 sq km while Canada is over 67 times as large, almost 10 million sq km. Yet, population-wise, Canada has over 35 million people whereas Bangladesh has that PLUS 122 million more.

These differences seem vast but look a little closer. I see two nations rich in natural resources. Both were influenced in history and growth by the British. Both believe in the principles of freedom and equality. Both countries possess a strong sense of family, community and a profound understanding of place. We are two countries of enlightenment and progress. The world needs more of that right now.

Our differences may be real, but they are superficial. Our similarities are much deeper and more meaningful. We are both bound by hope and united by a tenacious determination to make a difference for marginalized people here and around the world.

No matter the distance. No matter the time zone. There is a universality to what we believe in and it makes the world a smaller place by highlighting these important connections. I’m not a statistician but the odds fascinate me. As in, what are the odds that Zhadida and I would even meet? That we would share these common goals and want the same things? That we would both believe that dreamers make the best doers?

Yes, the connection is as real as it is strong. If a pavement dweller on the streets of Dhaka is hungry, we are all hungry. If a mother cries for the loss of a child after labour, we all hurt.

The ripple effect of the efforts made here extends beyond the walls of any building, and beyond the borders of any city or country.  

I believe that as our organizations continue to grow and work together, SAJIDA and Team Broken Earth will make a difference. We will help ensure safer maternal and fetal medical practices. We will continue our outreach to the marginalized and forgotten. We will be the true believers. Some may call that being naïve. But they haven’t gone where we have gone. They haven’t seen what we see. They think the problem is too big to conquer. The distance too great to cross. But we see it differently.

I know the results will be felt immediately on the streets and communities, in the homes and huts across Bangladesh. Because what brought us here is what will move us forward. It’s hope. Hope knows no border. It’s not restricted by size or time. Hope feeds on the energy we create, the effort we give. It’s the loudest voice we can speak in. It’s the best medicine we can make.