How I Spent My Summer Staring at a Computer—And Saving Lives

When college students return from a summer abroad—especially a summer spent in nonprofit work—their social media platforms become scrapbooks filled with pictures of children they met and helped.

After my summer in Iraq with Preemptive Love Coalition, however, my social media pages are oddly void of these things.

The reason for this is simple: I did not meet one child all summer who received surgery through PLC’s work in Iraq. I never held a child desperate for lifesaving surgery in my arms or looked into the eyes of a scared and grieving mother.

Instead of coming home with perilous stories of hard work in a war-torn country, I come home with hundreds of hours of database building and donor research under my belt.

Instead of coming home with a story about meeting a child that affected me in a deep and meaningful way, I come home with weary fingers and exhausted eyes from hours of typing and looking at a computer screen.

Lists of donor data

Enter six years of donor information into our database? Check.

I often have inflated views of nonprofit work. I often look at those who work for nonprofits as great adventurers jetting around the world, making a difference for thousands in the process.

For many, though, this is simply not reality.

Someone has to do work that is neither perilous nor adventurous for the peril and adventure to happen. This summer I was that person and I am grateful, because there are children in Iraq running around, playing with their siblings, and getting in trouble by their parents because of those spreadsheets I used to build the donor database, and, overtime, that computer work will enable many more to live to adulthood. Those spreadsheets represent the thousands of PLC donors who absolutely make a difference.

So, to Preemptive Love’s supporters, thank you. Thank you for giving so generously that my entire summer was spent entering your donations into a computer.

Thank you for joining us to remake the world through healing.

Thank you for forcing me to learn this lesson: Saving lives does not always make for a glamorous story.

But even without a glamorous story, the work is always worth doing.