Friday, October 13, 2006

Doctors without Borders

Last weekend, Monique and I went to Centennial Park near downtown Nashville to the Cultural Fair and went to the Doctors without Borders exhibit there. The exhibit itself was a simulated refugee camp that helped us better understand what it was like to live scared for our lives in another country that doesn't want us but has to support us because of international law.

I'll give you some of the highlights of the exhibit. It started on the other side of a guard-rail where it was explained to us that when things get bad in a country torn by war and individuals feel forced to flee their homes, they have no rights in their own country. They might "have" rights in the abstract, but who is going to protect them? Is it the government who's trying to put down an insurgency, or is it the insurgents themselves? When innocent people get caught in the middle of warring parties, rights go out the window ("collateral damage"). If you are being chased by people bent on killing you because of your race or creed, you have to flee the country...

...Because in the next country over, they have to do something about it. According to international treaties, countries must provide refugees with food, water, shelter, and clothing. Needless to say, this is trying on any country who has hundreds of thousands of refugees at a time fleeing over their borders, so many countries (Ethiopia is a good example) close their borders.

Doctors without Borders is an interesting organization because it helps provide medical care for these displaced peoples, the innocent fodder of war. I was impressed by how well human beings can do under such adverse conditions, but I was humbled by the comparative lack they must experience. One example: the average refugee uses 5 gallons of water a day. The average American: 100.

It hit home when one of our touring group (we were led through the camp by a guide) said that she had been in a refugee camp when she was nine. We did the math and found out that she was only a year younger than Monique and I! A Kurd displaced by the first Gulf War, she had to carry those five-gallon jugs of water a mile at a time ("They were heavy," she said, "but we had to do it."), while I was disgruntled that AWANA was canceled the night of the beginning of hostilities and wanted to know why war wasn't like G.I. Joe. I was having a hard time understanding the amazing technology of war shown on ABC news while she was fighting for her life in the dessert. I sat at school while she carried water by the mile.

In these circumstances, Christians cry out from the depth of their souls, "Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus, come!" With all the evil in the world, and all the sufferers, and our lack of ability to finally fix either one, we can only cry for our Redeemer to return and set everything right again. We give thanks to God for His grace to us in Jesus Christ, and apply ourselves to walk in the path that Jesus pioneered for us, the path of self-sacrificial love for our neighbors nearby and for the little girl carrying water on the other side of the world.

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