I was watching a BBC Panorama programme last week about the Syrian city of Aleppo.
The programme was filmed by undercover cameramen in the rebel-held Eastern part of the city, and filmed regular people who are living through the bombing.
This is Ismail. Ismail is alone in Aleppo. His family fled the city when the civil war arrived.
Ismail is a member of Aleppo’s civil defence force the ‘White Helmets’, a group of volunteers who rush to bomb sites to pull people out from the rubble.
Arwa was born in Aleppo, and staying in the city is her act of resistance.
She was fourteen when the war broke out. Four years ago her husband was shot dead by a sniper on his way to work, leaving Arwa as a single mother.
Arwa now works at an underground nursery. Children come here when the bombing gets heavy.
This is Rahmo. Rahmo drives a taxi by day, when fuel isn’t too expensive.
When he isn’t driving a taxi Rahmo drives… an ambulance.
There aren’t many ambulances left in Aleppo, and most of the hospitals have been bombed. It’s one of the most dangerous occupations.
I was talking last week with a client about purpose. About establishing why you do what you do. I hear a lot of talk about ‘discovering your why’, like your purpose in life is a thing you misplaced somewhere.
The problem I think is that most people are looking in when they should be looking out. Creating a purpose for yourself doesn’t come from making yourself happy, or inserting yourself in as many photos as possible using a selfie stick. It comes from serving other people in an engaging and rewarding way.
Over the weekend I was wondering: if I was in Eastern Aleppo, would I be driving to bomb sites to pull survivors from the rubble? Would I risk my life every day driving an ambulance? I’d like to think that I would, but frankly I have no idea.
Towards the end of the programme the report asked a young child what the best and worst thing was about living in Aleppo. The worst thing, he said, was the bombing. The destruction.
The best thing was the joy.
Do you get joy from your day-to-day work? It’s something to think about.