2017 World Vision & Sanitarium Senior Scholarship Award

Kate Gaabucayan: My thoughts on humanitarian issues in the world today.
Change is difficult to facilitate. There’s no way to make someone care about something. Making someone do something as opposed to them doing it out of their own free will is pointless anyway. So, why do I care?

Simply put, I think happiness is great. I’m sure everyone agrees. Not just the huge feeling of accomplishment after finally fulfilling a lifetime goal, but the everyday happiness that comes with eating a good meal, having a good night’s sleep, laughing with your friends. Little moments like that usually go unnoticed. Yet ironically, it’s the little things that help people keep going.

That’s why when I imagine millions of people barred from experiencing even the most simple every day happiness because of where they come from, what they believe in or what they’ve experienced infuriates me. There are 65.5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, with 22.5 million of them being refugees. What makes me different from them? I can live comfortably because of my where and when. They have to spend their lives wondering how they’ll make it to tomorrow because of their where and when. At our core, we’re all the same. Who? Humans. How? We were born. What? We’re living our lives.

I want people to realize what’s going on outside of the comfortable communities we live in and recognize that people are suffering. It’s easy to turn a blind eye to statistics, but when you recognize that each of those 65.5 million people all have hopes and dreams and stories to tell, people they love, foods they hate, places they want to go, it makes it harder to ignore. They are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children, friends, lovers. It’s easy for us to forget since New Zealand is so distant from the rest of the world. However, that’s precisely why it’s so important for us to care, because if not us, who? The people inflicting the pain? The people living through the pain? The government turning a blind eye because if nobody sees, they won’t have to waste time, money and resources on it?

There are so many people here capable of doing something, of helping someone. A single individual has the ability to make a huge difference. All it takes is for you to try.

Kate Gaabucayan