Doing what you love.

When I was 16, I had this quote scrawled on my wall - fais ce que tu aimes, aime ce que tu fais, et le monde t’appartiendra. 

If sounds much better in French but basically means, “do what you love, love what you do and the world will be yours”.  I believed it then and I believe it now, but do I live it?  I don’t.  I wish I can say I did but I simply don’t.  As much as I enjoy what I do for a living, I don’t live it and breathe it and I haven’t sacrificed anything for it.  

Not like Katy.  Who does live and breathe what she does.  But it hasn’t come easy.  This is a hell of a post, with a lot of struggle, inspiration and food for thought.  Just as we like it.  


Over to Katy:

I have always wanted to help. Just help. No strings attached. I get a kick out of helping people, animals and plants – even if no one says thank you.
I don’t know where this came from; it must be in my DNA. And I am pretty sure that it’s not very common. Probably because people are so busy helping that they forget to reproduce!
I think that it is this insane need to constantly help that has put me where I am today. In a country where a lot of help is needed.
I live in Paraguay in South America. Land of skinny latin women, very cold beer, corruption, chauvinistic men and poverty. In some cases real cry-your-heart-out-and-want-to-hit-someone poverty.


Paraguay is one of the poorest countries in Latin America with a population of 6.3 million people. It is poor due to corruption and some recent wars that decimated the population. But, it is also wealthy – the land is fertile, the economy is booming and it’s a country set for great things. Oh, and it has the largest fresh water reservoir in the world underneath its soils – something many governments have suddenly become very interested in.
I work in a Spanish charity Fundacion de Religiosos para la Salud which works in the area of health. I finished a degree in Biology not-so-long-ago and came out here to see how I could help. Literally. And I landed a job in this tiny charity that almost no one knows about.
At the moment, we are working on a big project financed by the Spanish government that aims to improve the National Health program against cervical cancer. Cervical cancer kills more women in Paraguay than any other cause. Why? Lack of confidence in the health service, lack of funds for equipment, female oppression, lack of proper training for the health workers…the list goes on. And, my job is to fix it.
What does this involve? Well, lots of meetings, construction work on new hospitals, treatment centres and laboratories, formulating a whole new course to train health workers, a courier service that ensures PAP smears taken at one point of the country are processed and the results given to the patient in less than a month, various silicone vaginas and my favourite part – talking to women.
I ruddy love women. They are so fascinating and beautiful. They tell you “They don’t have time to do a PAP” which means they won’t make time to do a PAP – don’t deserve to make a bit of time for their own health – their husband won’t let them go to the doctors. But, then you talk to her, convince her and she goes to the doctor. She does her PAP, she may be positive and she gets the necessary treatment. She saves her life.
There are difficulties, believe me!
Sometimes, I wonder what my life would have been like if I had done “what normal people do” what my parents probably wanted me to do – graduate from University, get a fairly well-paid graduate job in London or the outskirts, work my way up the ladder etc. But, this was never going to happen. I was never a “normal girl” who settled. I was always going to do something different and was always going to work with people less fortunate than myself. Everyone in the UK has so much talent to give and share with others. Just the fact that we speak English fluently is a cause of great envy to 75% of the rest of the world.
Has it been a struggle to choose this career, this way of life? Yes, I suppose it has. I work for peanuts (£300 a month) and that is the hardest thing. To see friends around you begin to accumulate the essential material things that set you up in life – car, house, shoes, furniture, shoes, a washing machine, a tumble dryer, shoes. Sometimes, I feel I have let people down by not being the typical “successful young professional” everyone wanted me to be. I have had to sacrifice seeing my Mum and Dad on a regular basis – I have not seen them for 11 months now. My friends, my best friends, live in England and I miss them. I could not do this job and have children – it wouldn’t be fair on them. Sometimes, my relationship suffers because I am out at all hours in various parts of the country. Sometimes, my brain suffers from speaking too many languages to too many different people! Most of the time, my heart suffers. After a while working in a 3rd world country can really pull you down and it can feel like someone stamps on your soul 3 times a day.  And it is very hard to be far away from bacon sandwiches.
But, whilst I can. Whilst I am young. Whilst money doesn’t matter as long as I eat. Whilst I can still change things. I intend to help.
Categories: Family, Friends and Relationships, Life Experience, Money and Career, Travel
12 interesting thoughts on this

11 Comments

  1. L
    Posted December 6, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Amazing. This makes me want to give up my job right now!! (although no offence but just being at work makes me want to give up my day job most of the time)
    But seriously, I would love to go and make a difference. I work in TV and make pointless programmes that are shown once then consigned to the archives. I would really love to do something more worthwhile. Good on you Katy, I'm sure your family and friends are very proud x

  2. Rachbakes
    Posted December 6, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    Katy, you rock. Totally awesome. xx

  3. Posted December 6, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    I have always been too scared to ever entertain the notion of doing anything like this. I know that when the final hours of my life come it will be my biggest regret. So I have unending amounts of respect for Katy and wish her the very best in pursuing her goals to help.

  4. Posted December 6, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Rach-Katy you're awesome.

    There must be so many people who wish they had done something like this when they 'had the chance' (myself included!)…how fantastic for you to be able to say 'I helped'.

    I really admire you, Katy.

    x

  5. Sarah
    Posted December 6, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    The simplicity of why you 'help' Katy has nearly given me tears at my desk.
    To be able to step away from all those material things and just do your best to make a difference is something really special.
    I think you're fantastic. x

  6. mahj
    Posted December 6, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    I. Am. In. Awe.
    Katy, quite simply you are the Woman!
    And having a tumble dryer isn't all that. You are so flipping inspirational.

    xoxo

    PS. can we arrange to send some bacon sandwiches to Katy?!

  7. Posted December 6, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    I don't often comment, but I just wanted to say Any Other Wedding has been on fire of late! Brilliant, engaging and inspiring posts.

    Reading this has made me feel quite emotional. My Mum works for the NHS and I have heard her talk of how difficult it can be to encourage women in the UK to look out for themselves and their cervical health. I can only imgaine the challenges faced by health workers in a 3rd world country. Unending respect for you Katy and the challenge you have embraced. You're an inspiration.

    Loveaudrey xxx

  8. Posted December 6, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    Katy, I'm in awe of you too. I think you're marvellous. xx

  9. Posted December 6, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    I agree, Katy you are a hero. And an inspiration. The world needs more people like you. I wish I was brave enough to do what you're doing.

    K x

  10. Posted December 6, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    You are incredibly inspirational Katy and a godsend to those women you work for!

    I hope they really appreciate you for what you do for them and god I will totes set up some sort of bacon sandwich fund for you my love!

    I wish I was the sort of person that would have done something like this years ago instead of making excuses why I couldn't. You will look back when your older and pat yourself massively on the back for all the hard work and sacrifices you made in order to help others and how many people can say that!!!???

    Lots of love
    xxx

  11. Posted December 13, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Wow, Katy, thanks for this post. Not sure if you will read this cause I came here late. I am also a biologist (and a veterinarian) and I have that gene you talk about, the itch to help, animals, plants, humans. Always had it and that is why I want to specialize in Public Health and Infectious disease. And I admire you so much, because as much as I am still struggling to find a job, a career that makes a difference, that brings change, another part of me really always wanted to start a family. So, I married my dear hubs last year, and we are now in Holland. Finding a job for me has not been easy, let alone one in which I can make the kind of difference you are actually doing. At this moment, it is not like I can leave everything behind and go to the Amazons or India (where there are projects). But we are figuring it out. Or maybe I could go but I have to accept I just won't do it ? Add to this the fact that we want to have kids, and it all suddenly seems a lot harder. Except it sounds like I am just making excuses. Anyway, I just wanted to write this, because you are a living inspiration.

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  • By Jobs For The Girls: Photographer on March 7, 2012 at 7:01 am

    [...] to get behind the reasons why women work. We’ve discussed money and career issues before, from doing what you love even when that is diametrically opposed to what everyone else is doing to being “only” a wife [...]

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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