Friday, June 14, 2013

From Sudan to Boston: Hope, healing and heroes


On April 15, Liz Walker was enjoying the afternoon tending the garden of her Jamaica Plain home. Although she heard the hum of helicopters and the distant scream of sirens, Walker was unaware of the devastating attacks that had occurred only two miles away at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. “I thought it was just another day,” the former television journalist said. “I had no idea the kind of insanity that was going on in the city.”

For Walker, now an ordained minister and documentary film producer, the experience transported her back some 12 years to the first time she stepped off a plane in South Sudan. There to report about a story about Bostonians working to end slavery in the war-torn country, Walker vividly recalls the encounters she had with residents who had spent their entire lives surrounded by violence, death and destruction. “It really struck me – how can this go on in the world and the world still goes on?” Walker recalled. “Sudan changed my world view, and I think that was God’s intention – for me to learn lessons about hope so I can help teach them
to the rest of the world.”

Walker shared her experiences during a program hosted by MGH Senior HealthWISE, “After the Marathon: A Special Event for the MGH Community,” on June 11. Walker said that first visit to Sudan marked the beginning of a new passion and commitment to giving back, and she has since returned two times each year, helping to build a school for girls. Despite continued violence and destruction within the villages she visits, Walker said she also has been able to see positive changes and most importantly sees that hope for a better future remains. “You have to work at hope. You have to be hope,” Walker said.

During her talk, Walker thanked the MGH staff for being on the front line of the healing process in the days, weeks and months following the tragedy at the Marathon. “We have to hold on to each other, and that’s what this city did so well after the Marathon,” Walker said. “‘Boston Strong’ shows the best of who we are and what we can do during the worst of times. People all over the world are doing the same thing, and we have to lift them up and help them through their difficult times. Heroes are made when extraordinary times happen.”

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