tim47Dear Ezra and Lian,

Sometimes it’s the little things that break us. Sometimes that’s because we are petty. I know I have been. Sometimes doing the little things can make such a big difference. Just doing a good job or saying a simple, “Thank you” can be enough to keep someone from giving up. You don’t know what the people around you are going through. Please be nice to them.

I had gone through a lot when I got back to Canada from India in 2008. I won’t go into details, but you can read my company’s internal posting at the bottom to get a glimpse of that. I was still in the midst of trying to get desperately needed food through Indian Customs and delivered. However, my “vacation” was over and I had to go back to work.

When I got back to work, I found out my locker had been given away. My lock had been cut off and all its contents thrown out. Where I work, especially in 2008, lockers are a big deal. There were more employees than lockers. So, there was a constant effort to take lockers from those who had left the company or no longer needed them. There was a whole elaborate procedure to follow. This was supposed to protect guys like me. You had to receive 30 days notice of pending loss of a locker. A copy was supposed to be sent to your manager. A union representative was supposed to present when the lock was cut off and the locker opened. None of that happened in my case.

I was gone for 5 weeks. I emailed the manager in charge. I told him he never followed the procedure. I copied the message below. I said, “Do you even read the internal website? It told everyone who works here, I was out of the country. Obviously I couldn’t respond to the paper notice on my locker. You didn’t even follow the procedure.” I never got apology of any kind or an acknowledgement that they had made an error. Not even, “I’m sorry.”

This little thing just added to my despair. It was just one more reason to give up trying to make a difference. It wasn’t the final reason. It wasn’t the main reason, but it was a factor. In some small way it lead to the second biggest mistake of my life.

This notice appeared on my employer’s internal website. I’ve edited this notice to remove both the name of the company I work for and the charity I used to volunteer with. Designated with X and Y. If both organizations choose to publicly associate with me, they are free to do so.

X Applauds Tim Morgan’s Global Humanitarian Effort
Submitted by: Public Affairs
Thursday May 15, 2008

Tim Morgan, humanitarian and Nuclear Operator, is representing X’s commitment to strengthen local communities – only he is doing it half-way across the world.

Situated deep within the bamboo jungles in one of the North Easternmost regions of India, sits Mizoram—a remote and mountainous region nestled between Bangladesh and Myanmar (previously known as Burma). Virtually cut off from the world, including the rest of India, Mizoram has been ravaged by a famine, which began in 2006 and is currently affecting about three million people.

Tim Morgan has spent many years donating his time and volunteering to have food and supplies shipped from Canada to India. Morgan serves as the Director of the Mizoram Project for Y which is a non-profit organization that has two objectives: “justice education in the Global North and transformational development in the Global South.” The Mizoram Project delivers essential food and supplies to areas most in need, educates people about new and beneficial farming practices, introduces HIV/AIDS awareness programs and creates much needed Malaria detection clinics. As part of the Mizoram Project, Morgan will be working with a team of students from Wilfred Laurier University and members of local Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), to help the Mizo people. Traveling to India, the Mizoram Project team will spend about three weeks this May assisting in the distribution of food rations to the famine affected areas.

The famine in Mizoram, also known as “mautam” meaning “bamboo death,” is currently the number one issue facing the local population. Approximately every 48-50 years, the dominant bamboo species flower simultaneously. Although this display may be beautiful, it can become deadly: the bamboo flowers produce fruit which leads to an explosion in the population of rats. Once the fruit is eaten, the rats turn to eating up the food stores of the local people and a famine ensues.

The last time Mautam occurred (1958-1961) 10,000 people died from sickness and starvation. Afterwards, government response led to an armed insurgency which ended in 1986. Today, the current Mautam, which began in 2006, is affecting nearly three million people and although the famine has been occurring for over a year, this story has only begun to grab world headlines recently.

This month, Morgan and the story of the Mizo people will be featured in a CBC television report about the Mizoram famine on Sunday, May 18 at 10 a.m.