tv [untitled] November 30, 2013 8:01am-8:55am EST
how either and to write and read good books and it is wonderful to be here so thank you. i want to tell you about myself all the most of you know me more than others. i have been working as the title says in humanitarian aid for about 12, 13 years. this book takes place over a decade of my life and the in and out part of the title has to do with as darwin's that i talk a lot about coming home and reintegration so there are chapters that take place abroad but also back here and a lot of times the anti chaos. it was a wonderful place to come back to when i was overseas
because it is so common and i don't think we appreciate how wonderful this town is until you are away from it and other experiences. i want to give a few caveat before i start reading. i am not a spokesperson for the aid community. i am one of many actors who worked in this field. some people much longer than i have been. i worked a dozen years, people have worked twice this time i have been working, much more experience and much more expertise so these are my personal views and i don't claim to have all the answers about these issues because they are complex and challenging but these are the observations i had from my time overseas and i worked in a number of contexts and a number of different paths this career can take.
some people work in one or two countries for many years, some people work for one agency for many years. i jumped around the lot. that is person of my personality. there are a lot of career paths this profession can take. a lot of people said to me aren't you kind of young to have written a memoir. and yes, hopefully this isn't the end of my career or the end of my life but i thought after a decade it was a good time to reflect and jot down some of these observations that i had over these ten years. the reason why, the idea started when i would come home and i would have trouble reintegrating and tried to explain to people what i was doing overseas and i couldn't articulate it in any way that i didn't have the sound
bites i could wrap up about how darfur was a what it was like to work after the tsunami so i started just writing down my personal observations air and also how different it was from what people thought it was when i would get back here so i wanted to demystify perceptions about humanitarian aid we get from the media or reading about some of these places overseas. it seems so scary when there are some incredible people and cultures and places but you never get that part of it when you are reading about it from here so i wanted to pull the curtain back on this industry that we are not all saints and we are not all hippies and we are professionals who do this work but also, the people who did the work and also the industry and it is and industry, a multibillion-dollar industry. some people call the coming of age story and it does take place
from when i graduated high school--not high school -- college, until a few years ago so that is my 20s and 30s so i did grow up in the backdrop of these massive catastrophes so i write about that law as well. with that, i know people are standing so i feel bad carrying on. i will read four little vignettes and i will explain each one before i read them and they are in sequential order. the book takes place with a flashback in north darfur, that it takes place in new york when i just graduated from college and then through rwanda where i was an intern, then back to new
york, then there are two chapters that take place in darfur, then indonesia after the tsunami in 2005 and back to new york, then i go to sierra leone and jerusalem or occupied palestinian territory and then haiti. i am going to be reading from rwanda where i first started out and was totally green and naive and idealistic and than i am going to go to new york and -- know, then i am going to darfur, then new york and then i am going to haiti so i will read a few pages from each of those. this part that i am reading about rwanda is one i first arrived and having a hard time finding a place to live. people assume you come and get
housing automatically and sometimes you do but at that point it was 2003, nine years after the genocide in rwanda so rwanda was a really stable country at the time. it still is. the organization said you can come for an internship and find your own housing and i plopped down staying in a hotel. i was on not measly internship budget, rapidly running out and needed to find a place to live and fast. none of the cats were helping me. they all lived in these multistory complexes and compounds and i was asking around do you know any place to live? i was the new girl, no, good luck. any way you can imagine my sadness and loneliness, i fell into a wonderful local family who took me in.
that is where it starts. finally through friends of friends, i found gloria, a rwandan woman who lived downstairs running a local woman's organization for widows of the genocide and told me to meet her one evening after work. when i arrive she walked proudly up to me and shook my hand. so you are jessica, yes, i said, so nice to meet you. let's go. she was not a chitchat kind of person and getting to know gloria would take time and patience. she work perfectly tailored bright yellow dress, color popping off of her dark skin and carried a small black patent leather purse. she was a round woman and her steps were slow as if she were waddling. gloria had a driver who was already in the driver's seat of a bead up white car. she opened the passenger door and pushed the front seat forward so i could get in in the back. skinny ladies in the back, she said. i slithered inside. car made an audibles silence. my seeks didn't stay upright so
i supported myself by holding on to the back of her. this is too much, pointing to the driver. he looked at me and smile. she doesn't speak english. hold on to the main road crowded with people walking home from work. have you been to romero yet? i didn't know what that was. i don't think so. that is where we live, is that neighborhood. we drove down the bumpy road my seat jumping with each poppel, coughing up around us. after a 15 minute drive through rush-hour traffic, she pulled up to a side street a short distance from the office, slowed down at the gate. young man, gloria's guard opened it, pull into the driveway. come on, she said, holding the seat forward for me to get out of the car. i entered her small simply decorated house. the living room held but couch which faced large entertainment consul that looked as if it had come from a 1987 sears catalog.
it cabinet held an old radio and small television. at the far end of the room was the dining room table with plastic covering still on the chair. on a small table next to the cow the decay of fake flowers on top. things with tidy and everything seemed to have been placed deliberately. one ball from the ceiling for the around it. we walked to the back of the house, passing a small dark kitchen area and two other bedrooms. gloria opened the door to what would be my room. the furniture was simple, dresser, a plastic table and small bed with a bright pink cover. 1-woman at whydah center made this, part of our livelihood's work she said proudly checking in one of the corners. she reached the to open a window close to the low ceiling. there's a screen so you won't have problems with bugs. glory offered me tea. i accepted and as she walked back from the kitchen she said you will meet with us, you will be part of the family. i moved in at night. gloria was not married but had two daughters who lived in nairobi where they went to
private school. she shared a house with her sister betty and eddie's family. a son my age and two grandchildren. gloria was a prominent woman in the community and by local standards was rich. a car, driver, a maid and guard. later that night betty return home and glory and, smiled kindly and put out her hand to shake mine. she did not speak a word of english but it didn't matter. i was immediately at ease. sitting in gloria and betty's living room, sipping tea and listening to them, this was the first time i've felt that home. my first night, betty and i sat in silence with months of tea. we looked up at each other and smiled. on the wall were two photographs, one of a man and another of a woman both of whom appeared to be in their early 30s. i gestured with a shrug of the shoulder. who are they? she looked at them and motioned to herself and pointed to the ground. korea walked in and translated
matter-of-factly those are daddy's children. they were killed in the genocide. i looked back at betty. her face was down, her eyes gazing into her mug. betty's house was filled with a talking reminder of her children's death, her two grandchildren who she was raising. in the living room we could hear them bouncing around bedroom giggling and screeching. i took out photos of my family to show betty ann pointed to my brother as she took the small album from me and brought it closer to her face so she could see. betty pointed to me confused but animated smile. this is you? she looked down and at me again and shouted something to gloria in french. she says you are very pretty, gloria yelled back from the other room. i looked caribbean that fatah let my brother's graduation with makeup and blown out here. i looked at my dusty guard and ran my hand across my sweaty face. of course she doesn't recognize me. pointed to my mother and father, looked at me and smiled again.
i wanted to say how do you say my mother died in french but i didn't. the pointed to my mother's photo and pointed to the ground away betty had done and she just knew. expediency of not speaking the same language. that was rwanda. this one, this next bit takes place in darfur. i wanted to read this one because it captures this feeling that a lot of us in this industry feel which is you are confronted with overwhelming needs all over, all around you on of macro scale but you are forced to block out the individuals because that is not how we work. we work on large-scale projects that help thousands.
it is hard to devote energy to single individuals when there are thousands around you who are just like them. cote it is a constant internal struggle that you face, and this bit, i am still quite young and naive in this field and this is a part where i am confronted with an individual who needs help and i have a personal connection with this person so it clouds my professional judgment. as darwin said, i was leading a camp in darfur, there were 10,000 in turn lead to place people and my job, it sounds impressive there are 20 or so organizations that work there doing water and sanitation, health, schools and ims and messenger between the camp
community and the aid community. if the water point breaks in blockades 20 i get the news and i tell someone to fix it. i have a lot of close relationships with people in the camp because i am interlocutor. this fell off. okay. i am too animated. i was close to one of the camp leaders. after months of weekly camp meetings can committee leader and i were friends. it was hard to know how old he was. his head was always wrapped in a white turban and his body in the mack thing -- a subtle mannerism, op-ed carried himself with the authority of an elder and other committee members and i treated him as one.
even though he communicated through e stock we had an unspoken understanding. i understood what he was saying by the tone of his voice. regardless of what was going on in the camp, the forgeries, regular materials, bribery and internal politics always felt off lead was straight with me. after a camp meeting with the usual agenda, overcrowding in the schools, broken latrines, food distribution disputes, he approached us, my niece is sick, can you see her? i am not a doctor, i said. i know, she needs help. i don't know what else to do. i suggested he take her to the clinic. i already have. i will come tomorrow, i promise. i have to go now. the next morning i met with an agency about where the camp president's cattle graze, they started developing pasture on a parcel of land residents felt were clear, we need to find an alternative. ahmed was waiting for me.
when i saw him remembered. your knees. i will come after this meeting. the waited patiently in the quarter until we finish. okay, let's go. we piled into the vehicle and drove to his tent. his land was larger than that of many other families. he planted shrubs around the periphery to make a gate. my pants got stuck to one of the tree branches. , and pulled back a plastic sheet and we slipped inside. his sister sat on the floor with a large pillow covered by at cal on her lap. she looked up as we walked in but her face was stoic and expressionless. she slowly pulled back a towel covering the pillow. underneath way her infant daughter, her mel merged body tiny and frail, her head twice the size, swollen and puffy. applicable loon on top of a skeleton. the child's nose was distorted, her eye sockets and intimate cheeks and forehead bags of food. when she moved her head her neck
twist and awkwardly too week to support the bloated neck. she let out muffled gasp of discomfort. i felt queasy. i had never seen anything like this. had he taken her to the hospital? yes. what did they say? they can't do anything. there's surgery she can get but only in khartoum. he covered her head and set up. she has to get to khartoum. >> yes, we have -- we have to get her to khartoum, we will get her there. looking at his sister who is still sitting on the floor, i went back to the office but none of the doctors were there so i call the only doctor i knew i could reach, dad. swelling in the head, a congenital condition. they usually catch it in utero in the states when i've finished describing what i had seen. he was sitting in a lounge chair
on the beach in fire island. will she died, i asked a. she is not treated, yes. team needs to be drained from her head and she will be okay. head is already future. how much time? hard to know from here but she needs treatment soon. there was an urgency about the situation that felt a new. perhaps it was a personal relationship with a mad bedded jilted me into action. brainstorms, these were all out of my control, a sick child, that i could actually do something about. i went to mark. a girl in the cab has hydro and cephalus. he looked up from his laptop with swelling in the brain or something, her head is huge. the family has exhausted their options. we have to get her on a plane to khartoum and soon. feedback, combed his fingers through its air. but world food program was a u.n. agency that transported a
workers in and out of our for by plane. can't we paid for her to get on a commercial flight? weekend do that. can't pick and choose ibps to fly to khartoum for medical treatment. then i will pay, i informed him. i don't think you can do that. you will be seen as coming for our agents even if they got your own pocket because you're employed by a sky called khartoum office and got the same response. last month ever if you with her condition, the emergency would later told me we couldn't do it. we can send some people to khartoum and not others. it would be callous. i went to a coordinator at a clinic who said the same thing. there are people with lung issues. we could take an all too khartoum. what happened? two have already died. with every rejection my resolve intensified. had been confronted with this degree of clinical detachment before. how could i go back and tell him there was nothing i could do,
nothing is humanitarian he community could do? that i was are he would have to watch his niece died. for the next week i dreamed of exploding heads, and friday's with unicef, they would not agree to help. it wasn't in other words what they had come to darfur to do so they were not responsible for it. and there were programs for tens of thousands of people, larger scale operations provided little to many but working on an individual level, a case by case basis was not we were in the business of doing. i sat across from a logistics officer from the united nations who which oversees health care and emergencies. certainly it had to be in their mandate. we have a request to go to khartoum every day. we took every request we couldn't operate. i know it is sad. we can said this president. cannon house office building as girl to free how we tell the next 6 person we can't fly them? shouldn't we be flying sick
people to khartoum for treatment? shouldn't that be part of our job? we are here to save lives and reduce suffering, aren't we? we can't save everyone. he had a point as did everyone else. i may have been wildly naive. i can understand their argument in the abstract. my personal relationship with negative was clearing my logic. the food items, a few bars of soap, overcrowded schools, when stand up to malpractice lawsuits at home. this is the sum total of the humanitarian operation. this is the best we could do? with all the resources spent on getting this year, tracking the surround a foreign land, don't even bother. that this one go he instructed me over dinner one night. it won't happen so you what should and where your head about it anymore. of this were sympathetic. of times your spending on this girl you could be helping other people. get back to your job, mark told me after our initial meeting when the whistle obsessing about it.
i refuse to rationalize the path of least resistance. i was determined to get this girl to khartoum and matter the logistical challenges i had to overcome or what un bureaucracy i had to navigate, no matter the number of people sitting behind us who politely said no, i can't help. i had heard no many times before as a camp coordinator when we didn't have the funds to purchase crucial sanitation the women for transport rice to a sister can't because of an impossible road. it is not possible was the uncomplicated way out but i also found bending rules and mandates here and there and a bit of creativity birdie only ingredients required to turn the impossible into reality. you have to read it to see what happened. you can imagine coming from a situation like that to coming back home. would be a little bit jarring.
this little vignette takes place, i went from darfur to sri lanka and indonesia after the tsunami and then i came home. this takes place after i get home. i returned home three days before the wedding shower of one of my best friends from high school. although i look forward to the party coordinating my flight connection to make it by the time i got home i was dreading it. hold on, sorry. all wanted to do was lie in bed and watch television. excuse me. law-and-order reruns were particularly good. i wasn't at all prepared to put on address or make small talk but i was a bridesmaid, a singsong poem, i took the train
from connecticut to washington d.c. where she lives now. when i arrived at the shower i felt a long staircase to a room decorated in pristine pinks and whites. flower petals are sprinkled on the table. everyone was perfectly dressed and i was wearing the only pair of shoes i could find that morning, flats i had one 2 n. eighth grade piano recital. this was the first time i had seen rebecca since her engagement party eight months before. she had lost weight and her body seemed overwhelmed by the attention. i approached her and we had to. it is so good to see you, she said, touching my hair. i hadn't had a chance to get erica and i felt i looked like i was wearing a which wig. you look amazing, thank you. how are you? she asked. honestly not so okay. i am having a hard time finding a i was steering the. we will get into later but not here, she said, stroking my unruly hair. i wished she would stop.
i am sorry, i said quickly, and barista. thanks, so glad you are here. turned to greet a cousin behind me waiting to go out on her. around the women were mingling near the bar, a long bench was stacked high with gift wrapped in delicate paper, textured ribbons. leaders in tuxedos past colorful corder spent to classes of champagne. i couldn't remember the last time i had seen most of these women. are spot in an old classmate with the my capt. occasional touch. how are you? she hugged me try and not to spill the bloody mary she held in one hand or drop a potato puffs clutched in the other. i responded cautiously i am good. i am okay. how are you? i am fine. i want to hear about you. what was it like? it was hot. i am sure. and hard, it was really hard. darfur is in bad shape and is in
on a response is so complicated. was nodding but her eyes were already wandering. she might have been interested in where i have been and worked and where i did the work but she didn't have the words to talk about it and the truth was neither did i. and wanted to know how i was doing. i was the one troubling to put sentences together. i didn't have party appropriate and it goes to rattle offer dramatic stories that would cause a crowd gathered around us. most mornings i had trouble bringing myself to get out of my pajamas. i took the conversation back to her. how are things with you? good but nothing compared to what you do. a school acquaintance over the conversation and came to greet me. i heard you were away. rebecca told me about indonesia, the tsunami. yes. oh my god. how was it? was it fun or devastating? when a question like that about one of the most publicized natural disasters in the world came from a graduate of yale law
school wasn't sure what to say. these were mostly private school educated women, wealthy women who ate at fancy restaurants, went to art openings and belongs to book club so these conversations caught me off-guard and i didn't know how to respond to her question. we opened gifts, gasps of delight for calgary and crockery, lingerie. after lunch we ordered coffee and cappuccino and nibbled on caramel drizzled brownie sundae is. julie, another classmate, looked over at me, i hadn't eaten anything this casey in months. how do you stay so thin, she asked? gen answered for me. she lives in ethiopia. i laughed politely. i didn't bother telling them i had never visited ethiopia. and this last one from when i
was in haiti. haiti obviously is in the backyard of the u.s. so there were tons of well-intentioned people who came down to help out after the earthquake day. this was about people who were there and myself as well. look at those people, a colleague said to me when we were in port-au-prince, they were wearing matching blue shirts and cameras hanging from their necks, and inexperience dripping from their sweaty faces. of want to get it right we need to stop encouraging every volunteer who can pick up a shovel and for rocks on the back of a truck to come down here. if it were you in your family would you want amateurs determining how to respond? it is like giving people shotguns and sending them to afghanistan to fight the war. in other emergencies there are travel constraints, restrictions, the cost of a
plane ticket, the length of the flight, the fact that the flight would end with them landing in the middle of a war zone, combined to dissuade most would be humanitarian from just dropping in. haiti was the one hour flight from miami and did not require an entrance bill which meant an ideal destination for people who wanted to help out for a week. we would see flocks of americans commemorating the trip they were currently on. the nation's new the groups were there to clean up and presumably the group's new why they were there so the brightly colored billboard t-shirts were there to remind though weekend warrior do-gooder's of what people they were. haiti relief 2010, june 16th through june 22nd. most were worn by missionary groups, ordinary people, extraordinary purpose. angel missions released recovery reversed, love haiti mission, keeping hope alive.
and last but not least church of the brethren. i am 5ed to haiti, where are you going? the vegan food relief team had matching baseball caps, the scientology is favored identical orange panchos. no matter what their members were every good agenda was always the same. they clear rubble, said a few prayers, took a lot of pictures and laughter. if their shirts were not brazen enough their conversations were. on one of my many fights back from new york i was joined by a bunch of firefighters. after the baggage fell, it is called for a third time, the firemen started to get restless. the group leader admonishes them i told you guys it is like a fourth world country. you have got to be patient. there were several haitians who understood perfectly well. a few weeks later i was on a field mission in a lazy seaside town three hours from port-au-prince.
two vacationing american teenagers struck up conversations with me. the best part of their trip had been the orphanage and playing with the children. the orphanage, they sat on hammocks drinking the local beer. for them going and giving out candy to kids hadn't just felt normal like handing out appellates to goats and a petting zoo. it felt noble. these boys felt they were doing good putting smiles on the faces of children and creating lasting bonds. i imagine the kids they had left behind, to interact with and form attachments to the stampede of foreigners that rolled through the orphanage every day. real aid workers hated these folks. we called them hug vacations. they are on spring break, this trip is for them, not haitians. they are the beneficiaries of this whole thing. they are here to have a store when they go home, to feel good about themselves, all you need is a good heart and you can get away with anything these days. and other friends told us a
group she knew in cambodia, tour operators you can pay to hand out food to poor people. we turned around to look at her. no, she protested seeing our incredulous expression, i am serious. one afternoon i arrived at clampett clinic to check our infant feeding program and saw a bunch of tourists shaking their heads in disbelief, they photographed everything especially children and when some kids responded polk said would take turns posing with the. they look like a tour group at the grand canyon or disneyland. i was surprised there is not a coach waiting outside the camp. turned to my driver, can we go back? in looked at me, confused. you forgot something? no, i just can't be here with this going on, pointing to white women taking photos of themselves with babies. he smiled. i wondered what he thought of the spectacle of all these people, myself included, stopping for his country, there to make a difference. to claude and the rest of the haitians i was just another
white face among thousands of do-gooders' no different from the other disaster tourists. i clenched my stomach when the price of these people and yet still i knew i recognize myself in them. my motives for coming here were not so different from theirs. these groups wanted to see economic touch it, wanted to be part of an extraordinary experience that allowed the people worked with who updated their facebook status every two minutes to keep everyone they met apprised of their latest activities in haiti. why should claude distinguish me from them or anyone else? that is it. [applause] >> time for two questions. please wait for lesley to give you the magic cigar. >> you mentioned god only in
your first story, you had a driver who >> i thought you said god. >> the what that aspect was like and the difference from the other place in need of a guard? >> you had guards everywhere. >> and all these places? >> yes. yes. >> i have a follow-up question, may i ask? >> yes. >> the think american presence and high school would see a world different way if they had a chance to live overseas and work as in the peace corps, maybe not eligible for that but some kind of service so that they learn in depth the nature of living down there? >> absolutely. yes. you're point about staying put and being there for more than a week like the people i just --
which is an accommodation to those people necessarily, for people going, you want to make a commitment, a time commitment and go because you really want to be there for a long time, not just to see it and be a voyeur. absolutely. that would be the best thing for people who are considering going into this career, being exposed to the world and living there for awhile, absolutely. >> you had these rapid-fire experiences, how do you go about the job? >> my dad can tell you better than i can which is -- i don't know. it was much more difficult earlier on and i wrote about
that and about the difficulty of the transition. you get used to it just like you get used to being a doctor and seeing horrible thing is there as well. it becomes, you become a little detached and it is part of the job. it sounds callous but i used to get involved in people's individual stories like in darfur and you can't if you are going to be effective. >> obviously you are an american and people around the world have a point of view about america, but what the europeans you were working with think about let's say the george bush years or 9/11? did you engage as an active american? did you have to explain who we
were and what we were about? >> we live in a republican talent. it was more africans would be like america is so amazing, that is so wonderful especially with obama as president, obama is so wonderful. my european colleagues had some disdain for americans and sometimes i found myself introducing myself as a canadian. and remember i had my first suitcase i got a big suitcase, the american tour is there. i took that off. i don't want to announce a cut i am an american because there is a disdain for america out there.
i am not in charge of the mic. >> you write in your book about the contradiction between the aid industry being dependent on donors but yet you're real clients are these desperate people who have no resources and you talk about how it is awfully hard to surf and please donors because it means you can't do what you want to for the people you are trying to help. >> this is sort of the accountability debate. on the one hand we need to be transparent and accountable to donors who are giving us money and that means not only you writing checks to the red cross or whatever agency but large institutional donors, government giving multimillion-dollar grants so they have a project proposal we have to implement
but the end user is the effected person and they don't have a choice, this is all preordained by a donor at headquarters or wherever and it is take it or leave it relationship with people on the ground. we come in and a top-down approach says we want to implement a school here and put water here but there were program plans and projects events already determined and it is sort of like after the fact we ask people is this actually what you mean? we never work as though they can put us out of business. we should, we should be thinking about i want to work if you had a choice between saving the children, you want to save the children to show what but that is not how it works because the end user doesn't have the us
say. >> a small time frame, i am sure there were times you fortunately enjoyed good health but should you become sick, the fog of access to quality that you are accustomed to here, to quality medical care enter your mind with the doctor you had to see to be good enough, were the medications available you might need? >> i remember, i have used the internet a lot and roomfuls of doctors to diagnose slice of. i got a horrible rash and there was this doctor there and he was like it is something in your water. i know it is not in my water because i just know it is not. i know this is something else so he had an internet connection and i didn't, can i use your computer? i went on when mgn this is what i have.
i took pictures. i think there are plenty, doctors without borders, doctors i had gone to, i have gone to lot of doctors in nairobi who were flying. and you get medivaced out of there if you really get something. >> are there times you question the value of your service and if so how did you sustain your commitment? >> i think all of us at some point at do because change is slow and incremental and as i read from my story, you are working on very little to thousands and you don't necessarily see the results immediately. you know that you are making the contribution, a much larger
industries that is doing something so you are a tiny little part of that. the relationships you do form, people like on that -- bought mad -- the victories are few and far between at individual levels but those little rewards are what sustain you. a lot of times you feel i have put in so much and move the bar two centimeters when it should have been two miles. >> how are you going next? what is your next posting and what are your future plans? do you have any say in where you are going? which countries? >> i can say no. right now i am here in new york and i will move to geneva probably.
i am here. i am not planning on going overseas in any time soon. >> i would like to congratulate you. i have a few things in common with you. your work for the united nations at the moment? >> i do. >> i used to work for the united nations. i spent eight years in indonesia, five weeks in rwanda, three months in haiti in 1985 for the u.s. government. to hear someone without cynicism, with such enthusiasm and personal observation talked-about countries that are close to my heart is a delight. >> thank you. >> the way you have presented it is very interesting because you have mixed important information
with personal observations. have you seen the movie princeton gardner? >> yes. >> you could be the one who played that role. if not now it may be in your future. congratulations. >> thank you so much. [applause] >> you are to be commended for the effort you put in. my question based upon your experience, wave a magic wand, make something different that you think would improve it what would it be? >> there would be two things. one of the my touch on with lois's question about putting effective people at the heart of the response. if you could reduce humanitarian
aid from scratch making affected people, host government, local government, local civil society the ones who own the response and not top down western or no. response where we know the solutions and we are coming in to help you. i would do it that way and we are getting better at that. the two recent natural disasters in india and the philippines, those are middle-income countries where they haven't asked for international support. the government, the local communities are owning response. they are always the first responders. your neighbors and friends and people around you are the ones who know what needs to be done, know how to get it and are more resilient than we are coming down. i can't deal with this, no electricity.
they are the ones helping. that would be if i could redo the -- also one thing we are doing a lot more of, we are talking a lot more about these days, investing in preparedness because a lot of these events are cyclical. cyclical storms, cyclical droughts that cause a lot of suffering, high death tolls, we can predict them but we don't invest in preparing or reducing risk before the emergency happens. it is a lot easier to fund-raiser for schools that collapsed than to put reinforcements in the school if and when it does collapse. i could ask for $100 to help the starving child because there had been a drought and here she is but it is hard to say give me $100 before that happens to stop the climate change that may
happen. we are reacting. this industry is the reactive industry and we perfect and that machinery but preparing is something that we don't always do but we are starting to now. >> as someone who wants to be an aid worker what recommendations would you give to people who want to make a real difference? >> are you in college? you are in high school. i would say learn a language, learn a language that is used in the developing world, french and arabic would be two good languages. i would say volunteer and work on domestic issues to see if you like social service and like this kind of work because a lot of the issues you will see in places here, in nonprofits here will be similar issues you see in the international context as well.
i would say get involved in world affairs, read about it, read books, read articles, advocate with your congress people about issues you are passionate about and go overseas. 4 period of time, volunteer for a while. but make a real investment and the time commitment and try to get an internship when you are in college over the summer or winter, something related and take classes on the subject and i would say also get a skill. motivation is wonderful. that is really great but it takes more than motivation to be in the field. a lot of times either technical skills so you are a public health worker or a water and sanitation engineer or shelter expert and you know the dimensions of rebuilding or you
are just the manager and you are managing multimillion-dollar budget and you have to deal with procurement and h.r. and management issues still learn of skills that will work in humanitarian context. >> one final question. then she will sign books and talk to you. >> i would like your comment on this. the dalai lama says the world will be healed by western women. when you mention corruption of what love to talk more about good and evil, do you see the best in people on a broad level and other professional women's a look around world and see how they treat their women and you can do is what the problems we have are the way they are so the world will be healed by western
women, what do you think of that? >> i don't know. yes. i see some amazing western women in the field that i work with but i don't know that the corruption i talk about in this book is endemic to places the don't treat women well. that has to do with more resources coming in to a place than people have ever seen before. anyone anywhere would do that. it is un your family and the need something to survive and there are people who have some things to get more, you are going to do it, we have seen that happen in katrina. i don't know about sandy but it happens everywhere.
in this particular case, people were -- i talk about this a bit later. what was happening, you have these id cards and that gives you access to get food, biweekly extrusions of food people from either the account or the sister camp with falsified these and they would come to get food as well but the deal we put them through to get these, to wait on line for ten hours and they would have to do this and for that 10% we are giving out to people who may not actually be eligible they need that too. hyde couldn't have a problem with distributing it to people who want to be exact beneficiaries we thought they would be and i was talking with a colleague of mine because i was having trouble deciding how
to deal with this because the lists are all handwritten and there are 24,000 people and how do you determine what is what? he said i was on welfare when i was in my 20s and wasn't eligible but i forged stuff and i would get 100 lbs. extra every month but i really needed that 100 pounds. so wait in line, call and deal with it and that hundred lbs. didn't mean anything to me anymore because whenever. i put it in perspective. everyone does it a bit. not like this is so much money. it is an extra sheet they can sell on the market to get -- so they can buy food for their kids. >> last question from chris. >> it is not a question. logistics, this has been tremendous. you have a lot of people who
went your signature and want to buy books so what we did is in the main library when you go in that door you will sign in a fair. and when you go in, we propped it open so don't trip on it as you go in. if you are buying the book, helped yourself in line and sign in there. >> thank you so much. [applause] [inaudible conversations]