Fear is a useless thing

Valerie Browning on the choices that led to her life among the Afar nomads of the Ethiopian desert.

“Why do you protect yourself? Life without risk is not life, it is simply not life.”

Valerie Browning is a nurse and midwife who has spent the last 30 years among the Afar people of Ethiopia. She has endured civil war and snakebite, extreme heat and malaria, and nearly died in childbirth. She daily takes on the hardships confronting her people: famine, cholera, infant mortality, illiteracy, climate change, and the real causes of poverty. 

It’s an unexpected path for someone who was born in England and grew up in country NSW. In this interview, Valerie explains what’s wonderful about Afar life, explains how she keeps going in the face of overwhelming need, and puts us all on the hook for the choices we make in our affluent Western context.

“I see in the life of the Afar almost the life of the four Gospels. Where was Christ? Was he sitting in a very comfortable chair? Did he iron his clothes every day? Did he wear perfume? I don’t think so. I really don’t think so. Because he was with those who were the most neglected in the society. He seemed to be having a good time actually … It’s up to all of us, in our own responsibility, in our own belief, to find out whether we’re on the right path or not.”

You can learn more about Valerie’s work and support it here: www.barbaramayfoundation.com 

Listen to our interview with Valerie’s nephew Andrew Browning here: www.publicchristianity.org/missionary-doctor/ 

Photo credit: Joni Kabana.