This is Safia.
She is a posh Parisian kween who got a job straight outta uni working as a nurse in emergency and theatre. At the end of a shift one day, she got chatting to a colleague and mid shoe-tie, decided she was going to move to New Zealand.
Why New Zealand?
My parents met in a village in Mali, moved to Paris to have a better life and haven’t travelled at all – not even to visit Italy for one day! So, before I start my house/ marriage / kids life, I wanted to travel the world. New Zealand was the furthest away and a mystery. When I got there it felt like a dream with all the landscapes and sky. I stayed for two years and then flew to Bali.
Best things you’ve done in Bali?
– scuba diving a shipwreck.
– dancing everywhere: from sunset bars to beach parties.
– renting a scooter and driving non-stop for two hours (that was crazy, I’d never ridden one before, but I discovered I had good balance).
– finding my independence.
When asked ‘Where are you from?’ travelling is the only time in my life, I say ‘I’m from France’, not Mali. Ignorant people will then ask me ‘Oh really? But like.. originally?’ and I say Paris. One person once said ‘Oh, which French colony are you from?’ another said ‘Oh but do you speak French?’ because everyone thinks I’m born in Africa. Even Africans – last week I met a black guy from Trinidad who got angry at me for saying I’m French, not African. He walked away and refused to talk to me again.
What else has surprised you?
Some people don’t offer much help or want to share things. I find it selfish, because when you need help, you appreciate it. In African culture, we share and help everyone, even people we don’t know. Random street kids will show up to your house and ask for left over food and we always give it – no one ever throws it away, because it can help someone else.
Hold up I thought in Mali that everyone was starving and dying of thirst and being adopted by Madonna?
Mali is better than what you see in documentaries. It used to be like that before but we have water on tap and we eat lots of rice with really thick peanut sauces. And you never eat anything without meat – which is hard as I’m a vegetarian.
Shiiiiz that would be bad. So would be getting sick in Africa. What were the hospitals like?
My aunt is a nurse and I went to check her hospital out. All the machines are the same as back home, but the biggest difference was the attitudes of the staff. In Paris the doctors are treated like they’re the main event and patients are lucky to get time with them – they don’t give their heart or try to connect, they just ‘work’. But in Africa the doctor meets each patient, gives blessings to them and then treats them with heart. It is so different. Their intensive care unit could only take four patients but the doctor there said ‘We may only have four beds, but we can save a lot of lives’. I really liked that.
You’re going back to the Emergency Department in Paris. What happens in surgery that no one would know?
Everyone makes jokes when the patient is unconscious. And sometimes takes photos of the weird stuff – like the time a man came in with a pineapple up his bum, spikey end first. I don’t know how he did it.
Ouch that sounds painful.
Another was worse – one time a man came in with his penis hanging by the skin. His wife found out he was cheating, so she cut it off while he was sleeping. We fixed it. Here look at the photo.
That’s awful. And it’s yellow inside? Woah. We need to take care of each other.
And the planet. Travelling makes me feel more involved in the world. Everyday we are living here together, even if you are far from your home town. Nature is our house, and we need to take care of it. It shouldn’t just be for holidays or dreams, a clean and natural environment should be in our daily life no matter where we are.