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I am visiting my beloved maternity project. By now, more than 50 babies are born here every day, which comes to 1500per month. It is a madhouse, but over the years, the staff has grown in numbers, and more importantly, they have become so competent. It is so good to be back with my front line family, they are still an amazing group of people, warm hearted and so dedicated to the women of their community. Sometimes ,their sweetness brings tears to my eyes.
But outside the walls of this oasis, the conflict continues. Wintertime brings a little rest, but this doesn’t mean safety or peace. Yesterday, we heard another loud explosion, windows rattled, walls were shivering and loose objects fell from the shelves. This time, a shop just outside our wall was the target, because the shop owners brother works in the governor’s office. 2 men were seriously injured. Later, another explosion followed, this time about 700 metres away, immediately after we heard heavy gunfire, seemingly to warn people, but you never know.
I was in an office, with some female colleagues, all in their twenties. Some of them married with children, others young and single. We talked about the situation here. None of them believes that this conflict will ever end. They reacted to the explosions with a mix of resignation and worry. Phones were grabbed and frantic phone calls to family members were made.
A translator with a small child said this: “I am 28 years old, and I have never seen my country without war. I do not fear for myself anymore. But now I fear for my daughter. I can’t raise her like this. I want to leave this country, I want to show her what peace is.”
My spontaneous reaction was to explain how Europe is very unfriendly at the moment, that she shouldn’t count on a warm welcome or safety there, that life is hard over there; but the words died on my lips. How can I say that? I can go back to Belgium whenever I want, I earn my money easily, I have all this freedom that she will probably never know and I can even choose to come back. Of course it is safer at home and a better life, however bad our country treats newcomers.
If it was up to me, she can join me in Belgium and build up a life. But more importantly, what are we going to do to stop all that misery, to finally give the Afghans (and Syrians,Congolese, central Africans, irakis, west Africans etc.) a true change to build up a beautiful life in their country and culture?
I know I am preaching to the converted. All of you are doing an effort to help out in your societies and to adapt your own life. Many of you are actually devoting your lives to that. I am so grateful that you are my friends and family. It helps me to feel connected to you, to share this solidarity. I am sending this story merely to throw some extra wood on the fire inside you, because our fellow humans in countries at war, on the run, or already arrived in Europe need it so much.
In the mean time, I will continue to work hard here, and enjoy spending time with these fabulous people
I send you big hugs A_____ xxx
This is a letter from a midwife written in her own words, that has previously helped to set up a maternity unit near to a war zone.
She reaches out to some friends and family in Europe for support and give's them an insight into what a day in her life is like by helping women give birth on the front line.
Do you have a story to share that will help other people understand the difficulties that life can sometimes throw at us? If you do, just get in touch with us through the contact page.
If you actually sit back and think about everything that has lead to your existence, every little variable that has culminated in you being here, with blood pumping through your veins, reading these words. Every possibility that could have been, from the beginning of time, but yet everything has lead up to this exact moment with you and I both conscious of our being. People of my age especially, but also a lot of us in general, pay little or no time to appreciate this magic. When you really do start to notice the magic in the small things, the small irrelevant moments that pass you by each day, you can truly then be overawed by the glorious complexity of the universe we are in. The football scores then start to seem ridiculous, the little quarrels we may have with each other become unimportant and stupid. We are all but a tiny piece of a infinitely large puzzle. But it all fits together perfectly.
As a 23 year old man, I am far from wise and I am yet to learn and experience a great deal in this world, but here is a short insight into my mind. As I write this I am hit with a wave of questioning and confusion as to how we conduct ourselves within reality. We are a species that drives for order but creates chaos, we desire love but propagate hate, we feast on bad news and ignore the good. Why is it that everything is driven by greed, leaving everyday people to suffer whilst a select few reap the rewards for themselves? The thing I struggle to understand is that the people who are guilty of such heinous actions at a corporate or military level, will go home to their families and love them in a truly genuine way. A pure love, as most with a family would appreciate. But yet then when they are back in the work environment, those human emotions can be cast aside when their actions affect the anonymous. This duality is common in today's world, and is extremely similar to the Orwellian idea of doublethink, the ability to hold two contradictory beliefs in ones head simultaneously, whilst still genuinely believing both. Psychologists would call it cognitive dissonance, and we are all guilty of it to some extent. I smoke cigarettes but yet I know they are damaging my lungs each time I inhale, I resent corporate power but yet I sit here in my Adidas jacket typing this on my iPhone. Political leaders may truly believe they are in it for the people, but are still able to manipulate and exploit millions of people to gain votes. In life we are all sometimes guilty of hypocrisy, whether on a small scale or large. But how do we escape this way of being? Maybe the true way to becoming a more rounded individual is to eradicate as many of these contradictions as possible. I speculate, but something has definitely changed in the modern age. As humanity grows, the constructs we create become even more complex, but to me it feels we are devolving as a species. We fill our lives with so many different things to keep ourselves busy and entertained but as we do so we distance ourselves from reality. We are no longer aware of the world around us, wrapped up in a bubble of technology and entertainment. I believe we should stop revelling within our own egotistical lives and start appreciating actually being alive in the first place. Life should be exciting, it should be a new experience every day, it should be a learning curve until death.
We live a relatively short life in the grand scheme of things, but it is no time for morbidity or negativity. We will die one day, of course, but it should not be treated with resistance as is common place in today's world. A wise man once said to me: “The only thing we need to do in life, is to prepare ourselves for death.” When I repeat this to others the normal reaction is one of ridicule and confusion, why on earth should we be concerning ourselves with such a horrible thing as our own death? But the point is missed, in these cases, as we should be accepting of our short time here and the sooner we truly can come to terms with our own mortality; the sooner we can live freely. I am by no means there yet but I feel I am on the right path. Who knows, maybe this will change when I'm older and I have more of a life to lose, but I do not think we should shy away from the inevitable. Imagine living every day truly as if it is your last. That freedom is what I believe we should all strive for in our actions and in our hearts. Imagine if we could somehow tune into a childlike state, living in every moment with hardly any thought, just doing exactly as we should. I often think of cats as the perfect example. Obviously cats have their foolish moments but whenever I watch one, or any animal, I am struck by their pure and perfect ways. The cat goes through life doing what it does perfectly, there is no wrong or right way, it just lives.
In a way I suppose we are doing that, just in a more complex way. Each of us still goes through life doing exactly what we do, although we judge our actions as wrong or right when matched against our own expectations. We make choices based on our life experience up until that moment, so how could anything be necessarily seen as an incorrect path? Obviously if you go through life doing negative things then you can't possibly live a positive and happy life, at least not forever. So whoever you are, whatever your past, whatever your situation- just try and live your life in a positive way and the universe will reward you. You are living as the cat does. Perfectly.