My morning routine starts on my phone. I know they say this is bad for you. People say that the smart phone is a brick sinking us to the bottom of the ocean or something. But not for me.
“I even quit taking coffee,” Arafa said. Arafa is my ARC teammate in Sudan. “I prefer learning from the group and writing to them.”
“Me, too,” I said.
My morning starts on my phone looking at a Whatsapp group. “Good morning, Changemakers!” says an Aftab, ARC Intern in Pakistan. “Good morning,” replies Deborah, the HR Manager in Uganda. “Good morning dear ARC family,” greets Esperance, Livelihoods Manager in Rwanda. And on and on from all over the world, the voices of American Refugee Committee.
There is inevitably a photo. This morning it was photos and cheers for our teammate who’s dedication to Darfur has inspired her entire team. They presented her with a Humanitarian Award during their World Humanitarian Day celebration. “She was present in such a critical battle situation, but she was very strong facing all challenges to reach those who are in need,” said her Sudan teammate. “I’m very proud to work with her.”
Every morning, my ARC teammates are showing me what humanitarianism looks like, what a daily effort at changing the world looks like. Sometimes it looks like celebrations, sometimes it looks like friends sitting around a fire after a long day. Sometimes humanitarianism looks like one person sitting alone dreaming about new possibilities, and yes, sometimes, so many many times, it looks like a team that stays through war to do whatever they can, to look into the eyes of their neighbors and say, “I am here with you.”
This Whatsapp group started because our team in Minneapolis runs an annual idea competition for staff called The Changemakers Award. The Whatsapp group started as a way for people to ask questions, collaborate, and connect to other Changemakers. The competition is over, and still we connect. Still we are finding ways to share ideas, cheer each other on, and cultivate new connections beyond geography, culture and even language.
Every day since the group has started I wake up delighted to check the group. Who’s talking? What new window are they sharing into their corner of the world? What will we learn from each other?
These past few months my job has changed. My teammates have shown me what it’s like to be a team that spans oceans, that thrives on generosity and encouragement, that gives each of us a new look at a world filled with people trying to make it better.
This is a great way to wake up.