“There’s one story that’s really stayed with me,” says Suzy Sainovski, of her time working as a photographer for World Vision.
“I met two little girls named Beauty and Belinda in Zimbabwe. They were living with their great-grandfather who was 97 and they were 3 and 4-years-old. They didn’t know where their father was and their mother had gone away, it was a pretty difficult situation.
“It’s hard to believe but 4-year-old Beauty was collecting firewood and cooking for them. I have photos of it all. I could not believe that this little girl was looking after the family.”
Suzy is now World Vision’s Syria Crisis Response Communications Director, and admits that at times working for the international organisation has been “heartbreaking”.
When she returned from the trip to Zimbabwe, she was giving a presentation about Beauty and Belinda’s story to around 100 people when she burst into tears – still worried about what might become of them if something happened to their grandfather.
Getting ‘burned out’ is a risk in a job like Suzy’s.
After finishing her degree, she landed a job with a Melbourne TAFE where she was required to interview and write stories about students. When her boss put her through a photography course to add to her skills, something clicked and Suzy pursued further photography study.
When she saw a job advertised with World Vision managing their photo assets, she applied for it.
“In the early years I was asked to go on a trip to Africa and I was so excited, I was driving home singing Lion King songs out loud in the car on the way home,” she laughs.
“I went to Tanzania and Zambia on my first trip, not as a photographer but doing the interviews. I went with a freelance photographer and loved the experience.”
Suzy was hooked. She would become the field resources team leader and photographer. She was at World Vision Australia for over eight years, at times working much more than was good for her and admits “it’s not glamorous, I have vomited in so many countries”.
The part of Suzy that motivates her to do the kind of work she does is the search for meaning in her life.
“It’s cliché, but also happens to be true,” she says.
“I like to do work that has meaning for me and if my work can help people in some way then that gives me meaning.”
Suzy’s achieved something many people look for, but find trouble grasping. A job that fulfills oneself. Something to do with ones life that helps other people.
Not everyone wants to pack up their life and move to Jordan, where Suzy is now based, and that’s ok, she says.
That same part of Suzy that exists in so many of us can be fulfilled in other ways.
“There are lots of different things you can do,” she says.
“There’s career change if that’s what you want to do – if you want to be part of it on daily basis its probably a career change you’re after. But I worked for World Vision based in Australia. People could still be doing something that’s making a difference but they don’t have to go to another country to do it.
“People can donate to whatever cause is dear to them whether it’s in another country or in Australia.
“And you can volunteer of course, I volunteered for different organisations sometimes in other countries, sometimes in Australia. Volunteering is a great way to get some experience and also let other people know what you can do.”
Jobs in the sector can be distressing at times, she admits, but the work is fulfilling.
A year after meeting Beauty and Belinda, a year after bursting into worried tears on stage, Suzy heard that they were alive, well, and Beauty had even started school.
“So you also do hear about the good things too,” Suzy says.
“It’s important to keep perspective and make sure that there’s balance in your life and it doesn’t take over.”
- Check out Suzy’s inspiring photography and stories on the World Vision Australia blog here.
- How would you like to work at World Vision? There’s new jobs being advertised here.
- Discover your purpose and life’s calling with our FREE eBook – ‘The Purpose Manifesto: 5 steps to discovering your purpose and living the life you were made for‘