Are You A Human Ostrich?

I crouch next to the toilet trying to suppress the wave of nausea that threatens to take over me. I wonder for the 100th time if I should leave the WhatsApp group. ‘I can’t bear to see these photos anymore’, I think to myself.


Explosions of red on my screen, the fire of violent fury. Children’s bloodied bodies, angry messages asking where the international community is? Where are the human rights the west bangs on about?


I say to myself, ‘you’re already doing what you can, you don’t need to see these photos’, but then, as ever, the same familiar answer comes back: ‘but if I don’t look, who is?’


A devastating image of a father looking down on his two kids had triggered these thoughts. A second image shows some miraculous saving of two little children. The Whatsapp group rejoices prematurely.

Two hours later, news that one of the children and her mother died from the severity of their injuries.

I follow a familiar pattern. So familiar that the moment I am conscious of its repetition, I want to vomit again.






This is what usually happens. These images either make me really sad and want to cry or I bypass sadness straight to hot anger. I ask myself how has this been allowed to continue for 8 years - where are the world leaders, the UN, anyone?

Then I wonder if the story is in the media - I look and find the all too familiar response; no. not really. We can scarcely get anyone to listen, hear or care. Not anyone in power, nor most of those on the street.

Then comes - what can I do? What else can we do? Who can I call? This should be in the news for all to see. This is the frantic, active stage - ideation. ‘There must be something’ I say to myself.

Then a voice stops me and slows me down… ‘what’s the point? Everyone already knows.’ More pictures of dead children isn’t going to stop this abhorrent war on civilians.

Then hot tears of sadness and frustration.

After a break, I carry on with my work.


It absolutely is harder to look and face these images and truths than not. I would spare myself all the above if I buried my head in the sand, backside in the air and pretended this, or any of our world issues, weren’t happening

But I refuse to be that human ostrich. It is this attitude that will deem humanity to continue to repeat the same deadly mistakes over and over, and over, and over.

It’s very simple. Either we are part of the solution or the problem and I am very grateful for being part of a CanDo community that has chosen over the last 3 years to be firmly part of the solution.

With the help of a few generous contributors, we’ve successfully helped 6 partners run 11 campaigns, reaching 559,753 people in need.

In just the last two months, since the massive escalation of violence in Northern Syria began, our partners have been able to move incredibly fast, reaching 15,390 people with projects varying from mobile clinics, child protection services, critical psychological support and hot food provision.

That’s nearly 559,753 people we collectively wouldn’t have aided in their darkest hours if we were ostriches.

Thank you for choosing humanity and not a giant, flightless bird.


I'm not an ostrich either


About Dr Rola Hallam

CanDo's Founder & CEO. A consultant anaesthetist who has worked for 14 years in global health. Loves the diversity of humankind and has a deep sense of interconnectedness - with that rare ability to connect with, and accept all people.