I won’t be the first to say it but 2016 has been a turbulent year.
On the world stage, of course. And on my own little piece of the planet (I’m pausing here to think of the personal equivalent to a world stage… A school play? A Punch & Judy tent? An upturned soapbox on a corner of a street? But I digress…)
Whatever the size of performing arena, 2016 has been a year of speckled terror awash with beautiful hope. My wonderful daughter arrived, after a long and very difficult cooking time. There then followed absolute terror as she struggled to breathe and we spent another week in hospital, alarms ablaze like sirens.
Professionally, keeping the show on the road with so much sickness and strife has been tough. And then, out of the blue, this blog was shortlisted by National Geographic Traveller for Best Travel Blog in the World and then picked up the Best Travel Blog UK award at the prestigious industry Vuelio Blog Awards.
Highs and lows. Rollers and coasters. And fingers tightly crossed that we will now live happily ever after.
A girl can but dream.
Meanwhile, of course, the world stage has been busy, busy, busy, threading together its own stories of hope with tales of despair.
But here’s one story you may not have heard of: the story of Ndayizeye Buchumi from Burundi.
Burundi is one of the poorest countries on earth, with a life expectancy of only 51 years and with half of its 8.1 million population under the age of 17. Fighting and what’s optimistically described as “unrest” in the country has led to the development of the world’s third largest refugee camp across the border in Tanzania, a place called Nyarugusu.
And although I had to brush up on the details, sadly, these kind of statistics did not surprise me.
What did come as something of a shock was just how long some people spend in refugee camps, something that’s not often discussed on the front pages of the ongoing European refugee crisis.
Buchumi moved to his first refugee camp in 1999.
Here, on the brink of 2017, he still lives in one.
Buchumi met his wife in a camp and they had each of their four children in one too. Food is rationed and sanitation under stress.
Although a qualified teacher, without schools it’s harder to find work, income or that vital, intangible sense of contribution.
When viewed from the outside, it’s hard to see many signs of hope.
Yet Buchumi does, so much so that he’s offered to be one of the four #storiesofhope to help Oxfam spotlight the work they do around the world this Christmas.
Alongside working to improve public health and sanitation in the camps, Oxfam run training classes to help refugees develop different life skills.
In Buchumi’s case, he worked with Oxfam to train as a tailor, enabling him now to earn a living and provide for his family in a different way. It’s just one of the ways that Oxfam looks to build stable, happy and hopeful futures, marrying a long term look at the things that matter with the necessary short term crisis appeals.
So, with Christmas just around the corner and New Year after that, have a think about contributing to the work that Oxfam does.
In very practical terms, they spread real stories of hope.
As for you? I wish you your own story of hope as well, both at home and at work.
Disclosure: This post was created at the suggestion of Oxfam but as ever, as always, I kept the right to write what I like. That’s just the way it is – and the only way I see to keep my hope alive ;-)
Photo credit: Amy Christian
PS – Hey, wondering where all the regular travel stuff has gone? Not to worry, it’ll be back! In the meantime, check out the best places to visit in the world section or head over here for lots of travel tips and stuff.