(This is an editorial explaining why I'm on the Polish / Ukraine border, including the history of what brought me to Europe this week, and what I plan to cover while I'm here - Sarah)
“That hotel. That one. Can you believe it? It’s going to be a nightmare.”
Taking up a vast swath of space along a bustling Ankara thoroughfare, the edifice my Turkish lawyer pointed out to me late one afternoon in September of 2012, was too modern, too clean, and too visible to be a staging area for foreign fighters preparing to take part in the Syrian Civil War.
At that moment, with the then regional conflict less than two years old, despite his impeccable credentials in the global arena, I didn’t fully comprehend, or accept, his tale of contract mercenaries hanging out in the Turkish capital. Nor did I truly understand the consequences of what was to come if, in fact, he was correct.
Three years later, meeting up again, in person and in Ankara, over a succulent meal just blocks away from where we had stopped that early fall afternoon, I confessed what my thoughts had been during our conversation in front of the hotel. Beaming with joy over my belated acknowledgment of his prescient insight, the attorney reiterated an earlier opinion he’d offered relating to a new project I was about to undertake. In discussing the logistics surrounding my impending coverage of a massive refugee crisis affecting the geo-political futures of multiple nations spread over two continents, one that had its genesis in the then raging war in Syria, was to be true, he felt I needed to go to the land where the battles were being fought, to feel, see, and know why millions were fleeing.
I didn’t listen to him.
As plans were formulated to travel there, a lingering trepidation turned into acute cowardice after having had a dream that left me feeling panicked, and I canceled my Syria excursion out of fear of being abducted by ISIS/Daesh.
I’ve regretted that choice ever since.
While my experiences traveling migratory routes with human beings suffering from degradation and denigration have been enlightening, the eventual travelogue I cobbled together, after traversing 11 countries in search of true insight into who these travelers were as actual people and not just as parts of cold statistical sets placed in dense reports by the European Union and United Nations, fell far short of what I had intended.
Earlier this week the decision was made to try and rectify that mistake.
In addition to my 2015 sojourn, and some other personal experiences in nations such as Argentina, Panama, and the People’s Republic of China, I’ve also witnessed long term suffering and the accompanying migratory desires that stemmed from it, as a member of a community-focused NGO operating in Haiti.
Between 2007 and 2017, I traveled to Hispaniola almost 20 times to oversee investment projects, attend meetings with the Red Cross, the UN’s MINUSTAH, and other larger organizations, and in general, worked to help individuals succeed despite residing in a failed state.
These experiences in both private industry and the nonprofit arena led me into the field of journalism, an area in which I reside today. In my previous role as a decision-making insider, it was glaringly apparent that a gatekeeping media existed, one which too often ignored subjects that mattered or, even more, harmful to those on the ground, sent in writers willing to tout advocacy storytelling as fair, and factual, news when they knew the sources utilized, and stories published, were of questionable veracity if not entirely made up.
My goal in covering the Russia-Ukraine conflict is to give voices to those ordinary folks who are just trying to exist in a world that has suddenly crumbled around them. That coverage will begin with those making up the ranks of the newest European refugee crisis yet beyond that topic, I’ll expand my reporting portfolio depending on what matters most to the public at large.
While in Europe, I’ll still be keeping a keen eye on my home city and state.
With the candidate filing deadline rapidly approaching in Nevada for the 2022 elections, Las Vegas and Reno, along with every town and city across all 17 counties of the #WeMatter State will be certain to provide ample reason for me to multitask in my reporting duties. Although potentially reporting from a hot war zone is an engaging notion, I join others in longing for an immediate and peaceful resolution between Russia and Ukraine, however in America the chaos, criminality, and insanity of the Battle Born State’s most prominent officials and would be influencers is part of a perpetual scourge which requires constant oversight and investigation.
I’ll end this post with some photos of what I encountered during my 2015 travels and invite all those who haven’t done so yet to follow me on Twitter @SarahAshtonLV, which is where I often post my tips and news first. I’d also like to remind you to subscribe to the Political.Tips mailing list so you can get immediate notice of our newest stories and recaps of all our articles.