Introducing myself and my journal: From here to there and everything in between...
I'm a 50 year old woman living in Canada. For the past 30 years, I've worked in the health care field as a Respiratory Therapist, mostly in the neonatal intensive care unit setting. I loved my work and the miraculous little babies I worked with but over the past couple of years I've been feeling the need to do something different and to try and to contribute on a more global scale. There's so much need out there and I'm so lucky to have all that I need; my goal now is to share what I have and what I know with people around the world and to do whatever I can to help.
When I was in my early 20s I got a job in Saudi Arabia and worked there for about 3 years. This was pre-911 so the world and the Middle East in particular, was a very different place. Having never been off the North American continent prior to that, it was a real eye-opener! The patriarchal society with no separation of church and state was something I knew nothing about so it was scary and extremely exciting at the same time.
In retrospect, that first 48 hours in the Kingdom was perhaps one of the most significant turning points in my life. I arrived at the airport in Jeddah, scared half to death and expecting someone to meet me and take me to a hotel for the night. Nobody met me and nobody told me why nobody had met me. I was stranded , alone, in the gated area of the airport with no way out. I couldn’t leave that area; I couldn’t even leave the airport and I didn’t know what to do.
Scared and alone, I sat down on the floor and, as I choked back the tears, I tried to distract myself by watching all the people coming and going. Suddenly it hit me...it was like I had stepped into the pages of a National Geographic magazine with all these fascinating people walking around in their colorful outfits and huge head coverings and costumes. Not only did this distract me, it was totally awesome!
Then out of the blue, a woman covered in black from head to toe, came up to me and motioned for me to follow her. Not knowing what else to do, I followed her to a back room where, despite not being able to verbally communicate, I spent the rest of the night with her and her female companions, all Saudi nationals. Seeing that I was all alone and knowing how scared I must have been, she did the ultimate thing—offered me friendship and safety.
Throughout the night they shared their food with me, showed me where the bathroom was and just made me feel less scared and like I was a part of their group. We even managed to communicate a bit and make each other laugh. It was my first experience with non verbal communication and more importantly, it showed me that in any situation, no matter how bad it feels and how bleak it seems, people are inherently good and want to help…
The next morning I flew from Jeddah to Khamis Mushayt, my final destination for a 3 month locum. I arrived in the late-morning, exhausted, extremely homesick, not sure what to expect! I remember being dropped off at the building where I would be living for the next few months, carrying my luggage to my room and just closing the door and crying…these big heaving cries that one only does when one thinks the world is about to end! Not only did the world not end, a whole new world began to unfold right in front of me...
There was this knock on the door and a little voice said “welcome to Khamis Mushayt. Come out and have a meal with us when you’re ready.” There was a large group of Filipino women in the building and they all welcomed me with open arms and went on to become good friends of mine. They took care of me, shared their food and stories with me and made sure I was alright and was adjusting to life in the Kingdom. Talk about random acts of kindness at a time when I didn’t even know what that saying meant! Between the Saudi women in the airport and the Filipino women in Khamis Mushayt, I was totally covered!
Although life in the Kingdom was completely different from anything I had ever experienced, those 3 months were some of the best in my life. So good that after my contract was finished, I came back to Canada and reapplied for a 2 year contract in Riyadh.
Living and working in the Kingdom was definitely a turning point in my life. It allowed me to see how interesting and exciting other cultures and religions can be (I was raised Christian), a fascination I've carried with me all my life to every country I've traveled to. And it was the catalyst for my love of travel. Since that time, I've been fortunate to do a lot of traveling, to many different parts of the world and that, to me, has been the best education I could have ever had! In my mind there are no textbooks that can teach what you learn from simply going out into the world and interacting with people!
life, children, helping others, making people laugh
I struggle with how we can live in a world with so much, yet have so many who don't even have the basics that they need to survive.
My Vision for the Future:
A world where every man woman and child has all they need to survive and thrive. Where women and men are equal in every way and where we all live together in harmony, tolerance and compassion
My Areas of Expertise:
neonatal care. However, I feel my other strengths include strong communication skills and excellent organizational skills