How to Survive a Disaster, Part 7: You can still have joy

This is the seventh and final part of a series by Abraham Leno, our executive director, called “How to Survive a Disaster.”

Read the rest:

  1. Lessons from eastern Congo
  2. Disaster is a part of life, and you are not alone
  3. Survival builds expertise
  4. In a crisis, you learn what business you’re in
  5. Be powerful when you can
  6. Humanity matters more than anything
  7. You can still have joy

How to survive a Disaster, Part 7: You can still have joy. 

Prolonged disasters make living hard. The feeling of powerlessness, the loss of dignity, and the cheapening of human life can make any of us wonder whether life is worth living. But, perhaps paradoxically, people who live in the world’s most challenging places seem the most insistent on staying alive. In the United States, about two people in a hundred die by suicide. In DRC, by contrast, less than one in a hundred does. 

In DRC and other difficult places, where suffering is unavoidable, people find reasons to live with their suffering. I have seen people find the most sustaining reasons for living when living is hardest to bear. 

Customers at our water points sometimes have to wait for a while before they can fill up their jerry cans with clean water — especially now that we are strictly enforcing social distancing rules. But a few months ago, the manager of the water point in a village called Ciriri thought to install a speaker and play gospel music for the people waiting in line. People loved it, of course, especially children. We took this photo of them dancing the first day the music started playing. Even today, as families wait patiently in line a meter apart, they are still dancing. 

No matter how hard things are, you can still find joy among the hardship. It is always okay to dance.

Next: Will you ever be happy again? 

Photo: Children dance to gospel music at a water point in Ciriri, South Kivu. Photo: Carly Lunden for Alight.

« Return to Blog