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An aid worker’s life

“I have finally made it in the industry, and I find myself thinking about what it would be like to be home. I drive in UN vehicles, I work with the poorest in the world and my friends and family look at me as if I am some sort of hero. I am no hero. But the cost to be here has been greater than I ever expected to pay. I tried to get a job last time I was in the US, but employers did not like my history of moving all over the world.

Now, as I am nearing 50, I am divorced, alone and wondering if I have given enough. But my specialty is disasters, and I just know that even when I get home and have “hung up my guns” the next disaster will hit that was even bigger than the last. Other than suffering an injury that is so severe you are permanently incapable of returning to work, how can you know when you are really finished?

Nothing at home can ever compete with the challenges, successes and failures that we endure in the field. And nothing can ever compete with the unlikely fantasies we have of home.” 

reflection by an aid worker in a discussion on leaving the field


One Response to An aid worker’s life

  1. Claire says:

    Thank you for sharing this, and the work you do Alessandra. No doubt the writer has reflected deeply and these words are just a small part of their journey. Almost four years out of the “field” (and divorced), I can relate to the challenges of re-integration, particularly on the work front, and the hero/heroine’s label. I also notice how the same story can be told from different perspectives, particularly as time goes on. Dropping the idea that humanitarian work requires a contract or “mission”, and working through the negative emergency-driven mindset that is so pervasive and subtle at the same time, was of value to me. So too was separating my identity from work (which ironically freed up more opportunities for work). It takes time to mend and find our feet again, and we will each have to travel a different path of our own. I think many of us don’t feel or truly understand the complexity of the situations we are in at the time. There are things we may not see or grasp for a very long time, and we may need to make peace or come to terms with that which we do not yet know and can’t yet be certain of. The inner fight or struggle is perhaps the last remnant left behind – did we do enough? That is not an easy question to sit with without spiritual values or beliefs or practices to anchor us, and remind us that we too are human.

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Mindfulnext by Alessandra Pigni is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.