Developed by manikos

Nigeria it is... the background story

Published Dec 10, 2017

One dream, one aim and many coincidences. All these to remind me that where there's a will, there is always a way.

May I share with you a story?

Well, I will do! Not that you asked me... but no matter!

About 5 years ago I was with a friend in Technopolis, a gallery venue in Athens, in a photo exhibition. It was the time when I started making my first baby steps in photography with my new Nikon D40. The building itself is inspiring, you walk through water pipes and rough walls. In that place, the organization, Doctors Without Borders was exhibiting documentary photos from their projects in the field. Capturing moments that western society tends to ignore. Scenes of a war, of the intense drought in Africa, of a cholera breakout, of a destroyed place by a tsunami or a flood. Moments that I was used to watch only on TV news.

I remember that picture with the look of a child looking straight into my eyes. I was thinking how lucky I was to be born in a “western” country and how this defines my life. On the other hand, what defines the opportunities and the life of this child is its birthplace. This child with that look on the photo hanging on the wall of Technopolis.

"This is the job I would like to do..." this was the only thought I dared to share with my boyfriend.

"Well... it's too you have already finished your studies, you have a job, you’ve settled your life, you have friends, you are in a relationship... It wouldn’t be easy to change all these."

And with his answer, I came back down to the reality. The choice have been taken.. It's too late...

Through the last years, all these have changed a bit in my life. Another routine, another job, and new people from several countries are in my life...

Last summer I was in Crete on holidays. I used to enjoy my evenings and writing on my computer in a quiet local restaurant. One of these evenings and while I was drinking my wine I decided to apply to MSF for a position in the supply department. My marketing experience wouldn’t fit in any MSF position, but with my MBA studies, I might have a chance. At the same time, a young Cretan man who was sitting in the corner asked me with his loud voice and his brutal style;

"Hey, you! What brings you to our village? And what are you writing all these nights? "

"Well, several things..." I said, and I continued my writing.

"You must work in the Doctors ..."

My gaze froze on the screen.

"Which doctors?"

"Doctors without Borders, you know! You seem like one of those."

"No, but I wish!" I said, and I pressed the last button to submit my application.

"Really! Wait..." and while he is calling someone on his phone he explains to me.

"I am calling Dimitris, a very good doctor, and a nice guy. He worked with MSF and last summer he saved my dog... Hey! Dimitris! How are you? There is a girl here..."

I'm lost in his words, in the coincidence, and in the phone call that is waiting for me to respond...

A few months later the Netherlands MSF office sent me an e-mail... This type of mails that I was familiar with after so many applications I've done in humanitarian organizations.

"Thank you very much for your interest. We mainly need people with experience in the humanitarian field."

It was the last application I made. I decided that my resume could not convince anyone for what I was capable of and I decided to look for job alternatives.

A few weeks later I received another e-mail.

"Mrs. Verli,

Following your application, we would like to ask you if you are interested in working in the Communication department as we believe that your Portfolio and your CV will support our organization."

Are you kidding me????

After a couple of weeks, I had the first interview. It was a test of a case in Nigeria about Boko Haram and what would I do...

(I have no clue!)

When the test finished I was disappointed.

"Well, let’s be honest, I know nothing about these; no matter how much I was studying all these months... why I am trying... It’s a waste of time." I said to my friend who was waiting for the updates when the interview was finished.

A few weeks later I receive their response.

"Mrs. Verli,

Please tell us if you are available for the second interview on January 30th."

(Someone makes fun of me...)

The second interview was on my birthday when I was turning 33 years old...

At the end of the following week I receive another email;

"Mrs. Verli..."

(Well, another email "thank you, but...")

"We are pleased to inform you..."

(Guys! Don’t be that happy, show some understanding...)

"That we will be glad to have you in the Doctors Without Borders team"

I read the message again and again...

I start crying out of happiness while jumping off my bed and holding myself silent, not to wake up my flatmate...

"You are accepted"

A few months later and after several proceedings, some unsuccessful mission’s proposals... I am here in this country for which I was writing about in the test. Me in Nigeria, with the same t-shirt of the guy in the photo who was working on improving the life of that child who was looking into my eyes with that look. I am in this country while I am holding the Doctors Without Borders identity in my hands.

And this is why I share with you my story.

My big dream that turned into a personal goal, and today, after a lot of disappointments, rather a bit more tenacity and certainly with many hours of studying about humanitarian aid, this will be my job for the upcoming months.

Dream Big... and go after those dreams no matter how unattainable you think it is!
Maro Verli letters