I’ve been there. In an ‘upscale’ shopping mall in Africa enjoying a coffee. South Africa specifically. I’ve also been in one in India. And in Jamaica. And, and, and…
We all know what they look like, us expats. Somewhat exclusive, somewhat run-down. They feel comfortable, safe, an oasis away from the madness we face everyday outside. Somewhat similar, but not quite similar enough. The attempt at ‘Western’ replication is often plagued with funny smells, stale sights and wealthy tension. However, we go anyway because they offer us a taste of home we miss the most: certainty. No surprises here.
I can’t imagine the terror that filled Westgate Mall last Saturday in Nairobi. A young female Canadian diplomat was killed and I have been touched by her story. Her family lives here in Ottawa and she went to Carleton to study International Affairs. Twenty-nine-year-old Annemarie. I never met her, but have met many like her. Young, hopeful, skilled public servants, hoping to do humanitarian work abroad and serve others.
There are risks. And rewards. There is fear. And there is strength. There are thousands of Canadians who go to work everyday in dangerous places and their stories go untold. As our Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said, “Like Annemarie, they [diplomats] do so because they believe in the cause of humanity. They believe that their work will better the lives of many at home and around the world. They believe in the values that Canada represents.”
This post is for Annemarie, to honour her life and her dedication to human service. And it’s for all the amazing souls who go to work everyday in places around the world that are not surrounded by the safety and security of home. Respect.