AT A TIME WHEN I was feeling particularly useless with fatigue, something unexpected happened. I found myself becoming less de-sensitised to what was happening in the world around me.

While feeling like this, in 2008, a magazine came through the door, out of which fell a leaflet. This leaflet was about the women in Darfur,  travelling out of the internal displacement camps to collect firewood and water, and in doing so being frequently attacked and raped by militia. Every time they left the camp, they knew they were in desperate danger of gang rape and sexual violence. If their husbands went, they were frequently killed and mutilated, if they hadn’t been already. The choice was a desperate one.

As I wrote at the time: “God had been preparing me; all my defences were down; my Western apathy had been taken off-line. And I was cut to the heart. Suddenly I was feverish in my attempts to find out more, to understand more about the situation. I found myself weeping uncontrollably, with a grief that was not just my own but completely overtook me.”

But what could I do?  Not just in the sense that I was only one person, but that I was struggling so much with limitation.

“I found myself weeping uncontrollably, with a grief that was not just my own but completely overtook me.”

Then it came to me: I could write.  And I could use the words I had already written, a collection of poems I had written over the years.

And so I created an anthology, called Fragile World.  It was just a printed pamphlet, but it raised over £500. It wasn’t much, but it was something.

That year my motto became there is always something you can do.

Something new had stirred in me – not detached sympathy, but deep compassion, even empathy. It compelled me to do something.

So I did.

Fragile World - the new cover for the Kindle editionFragile world is available to download on Kindle. It’s now only 99p (or $1.50), but I still encourage people to consider making a donation to a charity of their choice after downloading it:


Although I do not consciously ‘fund raise’ with Fragile World these days, I try to send any proceeds from my anthologies to Tearfund’s work in the the DR Congo, where sexual violence is also rife.

A to Z posts – reflecting on my writing journey

A to Z theme reveal
A is for … acorns
B is for … bricks
C is for … change
D is for … dreams

2 thoughts on “empathy

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