We were watching a BBC programme on the race to make the site of the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl safe. The documentary followed the building of a massive shelter to encase what is left of the reactor. The shelter also contains a massive robotic system for dismantling the building and what is left of the reactor core thus making the area much safer in the long term. It was a race because the emergency concrete shell quickly built to contain the disaster is failing and could collapse at any moment and release another large cloud of radiation contaminated dust.

The engineering skill required to achieve this goal of making the site safe is nothing short of monumental, it was truly an inspirational programme to watch and I hope it kicks a few kids into becoming engineers (there were a few women engineers too) and solving issues like this. What I really like about the programme though was the international effort that was put into the project. I could identify Ukrainian, British, American and French people working together and in a world which seems to be coming more and more isolationist, it was good to see a never before attempted, unique engineering problem solved in this way.

After the programme I somehow got to looking at the Medicins sans Frontiers (MSF) web page and looked through the 50 photographs of the year. I knew it wouldn’t be pleasant viewing, after all MSF tends to work in human made and natural disaster zones providing medical care to the most needy people one can imagine. As I posted on Facebook, the troubles of Europe with Brexit, and the USA with Trump are really put into perspective when one sees babies suffering from malnutrition and disease, or the state of hospitals in Syria, or young men in Africa stopping taking their anti-retrovirals because of social stigma thereby going deaf and blind, or teenagers in India being supported having caught antibiotic resistant TB.

The same old diseases crop up in the photo titles, malaria, measles, polio, AIDS, TB, cholera, and diphtheria, not forgetting Ebola. Then you get the human caused issues like domestic abuse, war trauma both physical and mental, war displacement and refugee camps.

I feel deeply saddened by what I viewed, and full of admiration and respect for the people MSF employees to help. I wish I could do something to help these people who put their lives in danger to help others, I wish I was a doctor or a nurse; but I am not and it is too late to change now. I think there is also something selfish about this desire too, I suspect I want to be a MSF hero so I am looked up to by others even though the real problem is not other people’s perspectives are but what my own are. Low self-esteem is creeping in, why don’t I do something worthwhile? What is wrong with me?

Well nothing is wrong with me of course, but I am a bit different. Understanding social situations, communicating and emotional intelligence are challenges for me; is that reason enough to feel less worthwhile? I am sure it plays a part. To be realistic I am not going running off the refugee camps or worn torn countries anyway, simply being dependent upon drugs sees to that, let alone thinking about any mental health issues. I could however volunteer to do something at home and looking through the website it is going to have to be fundraising. I have already salved my conscience by making a Christmas donation but I think I could do more; perhaps raise money through cycling.

When walking to the shops today, I was wondering why some people don’t take better care of their houses. As someone who can easily not see the mess that is my garden or my bedroom, I guess I shouldn’t be surprise that others can’t see that their windows need painting. To care we need to recognise what is going on, but in a world where we can filter what we read, it is too easy to forget the sheer nightmarish lives other people may be living and perhaps that is the best thing I can do; raise the profile of the underprivileged by marketing and fundraising. It would certainly be a challenge and I suspect it would also fit in with my core values.