Office of the President

August 19, 2021

In the face of suffering, we must care for each other

Ana Mari Cauce


Let’s Talk (Seattle campus)

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Counseling services (UW Tacoma students)

Counseling services (UW Bothell students)

UW CareLink (PEBB benefits eligible employees, their dependents and household members)

The Center for International Relations & Cultural Leadership Exchange (CIRCLE)

Although the COVID-19 pandemic, and its resurgence due to the highly contagious Delta variant, continues to absorb a great deal of our time and energy, it hasn’t blinded or inured us to the suffering and tragedy happening on other fronts and around the world. Recent events have been especially heartbreaking. In Haiti, which was already in political upheaval, thousands are dead or endangered by the massive earthquake that struck over the weekend, compounded by a tropical storm. The islands of Cuba, Hispaniola and the Dominican Republic have also been hit by a tropical storm. Here in our own backyard, more than 100 wildfires continue to burn across the western U.S., forcing thousands from their homes. And in Afghanistan, the Taliban’s sudden takeover has thrown millions of lives into fear and uncertainty.

Wherever these events are taking place, the pain, fear and suffering they create is not just local, but global. Here in our own community, our neighbors, friends, colleagues and classmates have ties to these regions and events. Many are desperate to know that their family and loved ones are safe. We often feel helpless in the face of such large-scale disasters, but we can start by caring for those in our community who have suffered losses or are trying to learn the fate of their loved ones. We can also help by  supporting relief efforts for Haiti, the victims of the wildfires, and organizations helping refugees fleeing Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan, in particular, we can hope to have some impact on protecting the lives and freedoms of ordinary Afghans, including women and girls, by keeping a close watch on the events unfolding there. The world must do all it can to hold the Taliban accountable for observing human rights. We can learn from UW scholars like Associate Professor of Political Science James Long who has researched Afghan elections and Professor of English Sean Wong, who has worked with veterans returning from Afghanistan to tell their stories through the Red Badge Project. For anyone wanting to show their support for scholarly and intellectual freedom, you can learn about how to help through the Scholars at Risk Network.

To anyone who is suffering, grieving or living with terrible uncertainty, whether as a result of newsworthy events or personal tragedies, we are here to support you. A community’s resilience is reflected in how it lifts up and cares for its most vulnerable members in their time of need. If you need support, don’t hesitate to ask for it, and if you see someone who needs support, extend your hand to offer it.