A Year With Medair: Lessons Learned

Hello, it’s Rand, I lived in Damascus almost my whole life. I am Medair’s first Communications Officer in Syria; It’s been a year, and I want to share with you how this experience is changing my life.

Lesson number 1: you would think that passion and dreams are set on the shelf when you live in Syria. Well, so did I. Turns out that wasn’t true all the time.

When I studied journalism, I never thought it would lead me to where I am today. You know, for Syrians, it’s always been about survival mode. No one would expect you to work in something related to your major once you graduate. No one would expect anything from you, except to just try to survive each day on its own.

I was no different; From the crisis up until now, the prices just for living are getting higher almost every day. With everything else going on, I forgot about how much passion I had for telling stories and for capturing the moments you will only witness once in your life. I forgot why I studied journalism in the first place.

Life led me away from my passion, career wise. However, in my heart, the urge to take photos and tell stories never went away.

I was working in sales, totally unrelated to what I love doing. I don’t mean to brag when I say I know I was good at it. Why should I quit to follow my passion, when living in Syria is all about providing, Only the very lucky ones can follow their dreams.

Then, COVID happened. Just like many others around the world, my job was affected. We had to shut down for a while.

Thankfully, I was blessed enough to take the time off positively. What I didn’t know was that the lockdown will be the time I built up the courage I needed to resign from my job. Even though the company opened its gates for customers again, I decided I want to be one of the lucky ones, a Syrian who can pursue her dreams while being in Syria.

And here the journey began. I started looking for a place where I can be the person in my imagination: a humble storyteller who moves around the country, listens to people, cares about what they have to say, and connects people through the stories and photos that I share.

I’m not going to lie and say that waiting and searching was a piece of cake. At one point, it was depressing. I wanted to just stop looking and go back to any job I can find. My survival mode was alarmed; very alarmed.

That was my second lesson: waiting taught me that patience pays, effort works, and luck is overrated.

I spent most of my time revising my skills on interviewing, taking photos, and trying to learn new skills related to the field I love.

Out of the blue, literally speaking, Medair Syria posted a position for a communications officer. Medair clearly saw the passion and the potential in me, and I was offered the position.

I knew then that the journey of leaving my survival mode behind was leading to an adventure that I’ve never experienced before in my life.

My third lesson taught me that reading a job description is not the same as doing the actual job. I know I liked the idea of being a journalist before, but I didn’t know that I would fall in love with becoming one.

I started going to the field with different teams. I visited a family where Medair restored the water in their neighborhood. Another where our team helped their children walk better. Even families who felt safer because sewage water is not a threat to their homes anymore after Medair repaired the sewage system.

There are feelings that I want to translate into words. The kindness I experience from the people I meet every day; the beauty of their words as they tell me their stories, the look of a mother when she talks about her children. These are things I don’t want to miss, and I want to share them.

In short, every part of my role is inspiring. Interview my colleagues about their jobs and the challenges they face as they serve those who depend on them; in fact, on us as Medair. I see that each and everyone in this team is trying their best to make someone’s life better. I have immense respect for my colleagues, and I know for certain that the wait and the risk was worth it. My passion is now channeled into helping others.

My fourth lesson: You don’t have to be a doctor to help people. Sharing people’s voices is help too.

I am proud to have been working with Medair for this year. Being the first Communications Officer for Medair in Syria allowed me to witness what we do to help people. Most of my colleagues are from Syrian and I can provide an opportunity for them to talk about their lives and experiences. I’m part of a global team that shines a light on how our work can change lives, and how their financial support has an impact on real people. I cannot wait to see the beautiful families I’ll get the chance to meet in this next year; to experience the great achievements I’ll be able to document.

The fifth and last lesson I learnt, for now, is that while it’s true the world is a challenging place, and living in Syria is not easy, once you have faith, you can act and help. Once you believe, you can make a change.

Working with Medair is an adventure that’s changing my life and helping me change others at the same time. If you want to find out how you can make a change, click here

In Syria, Medair’s work is made possible by the European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC), Swiss Solidarity, SlovakAid and generous private donors like you.

This content was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and headquarters staff. The views expressed herein are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organization.



A Syrian family photographs together.
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