Nicholas Kristof: These Are Stories That Still Touch Me

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof travels around the U.S. and the world, shedding light on crises and unsung heroes. After 35 years at the Times, he compiled some of the work that is still particularly meaningful to him. Amid touching stories of the Tiananmen Massacre, child sex slaves, persecution of the Rohingya in Myammar, this is what he wrote about Dr. Tom and the Mother of Mercy Hospital: 

“People sometimes ask how I stay optimistic when I cover war, genocide and poverty. The answer is simple: Side by side with the worst of humanity, you encounter the best. I’ve made repeated trips to the rebel-held Nuba Mountains of Sudan, where the government dropped bombs and starved villagers, and there I met an extraordinary human being, Dr. Tom Catena, who has devoted his life to providing medical care as the bombs fall around him. A Muslim paramount chief told me that “Dr. Tom,” as he is known, heals the sick and lets the lame walk — and thus “He’s Jesus Christ.”

“On one trip to the Nuba Mountains, I was sickened to visit an extended family that had lost six children to a bomb but also moved that Dr. Tom had managed to save three others. So I return from a war zone like that scarred by the pain I’ve witnessed, but also uplifted by the goodness, strength and decency shown by people like Dr. Tom — and actually feeling better about humanity.”

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