Women who inspire: Christina Lamb - Woman of War

Last Thursday I had the privilege of going to hear Christina Lamb, a British journalist and war correspondent, speak at Exeter RAMM Museum.

Christina Lamb has been a reporter of war for almost 30 years, after starting her career covering the conflict between the Soviet Union and the native mujahideen of Pakistan in 1987. Since then she has covered many wars and seen many painful and horrific things. At the age of just 22, she left her home and country, and started a career that put her own life in danger every single day, all with the aim of revealing to the Western world the atrocities of war - a war that we were often responsible for in one way or another.

At first, Lamb appeared nervous. Coming to the front of the room crowded with predominantly white, middle-class people from Exeter, she seemed rather ordinary - the type of woman you would pass on the street, maybe glancing twice only to notice her slightly exuberant choice of jacket. As she started to speak, her voice shook a little. It seems unlikely that a woman who has survived multiple suicide bomb attacks should be nervous when public speaking, but Christina Lamb is an ordinary woman who quite simply decided one day to do a daring, extraordinary thing.

Fresh out of University and working in a un-exciting reporting job, an invite to an unexpected wedding caused Lamb to move to Peshawar to report on the mujahideen war with the Soviet Union. Within two years she had been named Young Journalist of the Year, and from there her career led her across many war-stricken countries of the Middle East.

The conflict in Syria and the refugee situation resulted in Lamb’s book ‘The Girl from Aleppo’, a novel which traces the journey of ??, two sisters who fled Syria, the younger in a wheelchair. This book, along with the bestseller ‘I am Mulala’ were key in securing Lamb’s fame. In these accounts, there is a clear sense of hope, and a burning passion for life in the words of the young women Lamb interviewed and wrote about.

Why keep writing if people forget? Why keep risking your life in war zones when you could be with your family, safe, at home? Why bother, if your words and your efforts don’t seem to make a difference anymore? Yesterday's news is thrown away and forgotten.

Lamb asked these question to her middle-class, privileged, audience. What is there to say to such a question, when you have just heard how a 150 Pakistan people died and Lamb survived, protected by a human-chain made of students who surrounded the bus Lamb was riding on with the returning President when a terrorist bomb went off.

To put it simply, because there is a story to tell - stories which are a testament to human hope and faith, even in a dark, dangerous world.

As a woman, Lamb is able to talk to other women in these countries, a privilege denied to male reporters in a Muslim country. Through this, she has been able to reveal the astounding tales of the wives, mothers and daughters of the Middle East. From putting Mulala’s tale into words, to reporting on the missing girls abducted by Boko Haram, Christina Lamb continues to risk her life to bring the Western world the stories of these women.

Christina Lamb, woman of war, risking her own privilege to give a voice to the women whom terrorists and politicians have tried to silence with fear, violence, and cruelty.