Sitting on a stone beneath a large Acacia tree, I listened to a woman whose weathered hands and feet disguised her true age. Several hours from the nearest paved road, she explained how the recent drought had strained her community’s already fragile existence. Pointing to the slopes of a distant mountain, she told me how the daily walk to retrieve water was over 50 kilometers and the recent death of livestock indicated human fatality was not far behind. Her story is not uncommon. Far from that arid Ethiopian plain the interests and alliances of our respective governments meant that it would be difficult for the world to know about her need, or for the international community to respond. This woman should not suffer and potentially die due to preventable realities.
I desire to live in a world where government policies support the basic rights and dignity of citizens, and foreign governments assist in reaching these goals, not undermine them. Although a noble aspiration, having a net-positive impact on one’s community and on the world as a whole is not an easy task. At various points during my time in Washington DC, I have been faced with the stark realities of protracted conflicts and humanitarian crises around the world. Many mornings I am determined that my tenacity will carry me through, but I end too many evenings unable to shake the feeling that I am only scratching the surface of these complex and historically entrenched situations. My professional experience in government and in the field provides me with a certain level of insight, but I know that the journey to peace and equality for all mankind is a long path that requires each of us to engage in solving the problems we see around us.