“You’re a humanitarian worker? Oh you must be a wonderful person, saving all those lives.”
That’s my mental cue to either a) look for the nearest hole to dive into in embarrassment, and/or b) start mentally checking out of the conversation.
Eight years after doing my first emergency and three years into doing this full time outside of the Philippines, I have learned and unlearned more things in the humanitarian field than I can remember. I’ve halfway given up remembering catch phrases, terms and jargon, because a couple of years into getting used to a word, it’s going to be changed into the latest buzzword to add to an arsenal of words that mean the same damn thing. I’ve started feeling jaded about the many hoops and steps we must take to be absolutely positively sure that we are doing and reporting everything in the most accurate, least double counted, zero fraudulent way. I can feel the cynicism just ooze out when trying to make a project based on needs from the ground, because, let’s face it, a lot of the projects we do are defined by donors from up high who have preconceived notions of what will solve the latest or most prolonged world crisis. But if there’s one thing that continues to stay sunny and bright and perky, it’s my feelings about the people in every single country I’ve worked in.
After a few months off from the world of emergencies, I'm back in it as a Programme Manager for Oxfam's Ebola Response in Sierra Leone! I'm thrilled to be working in this programme, not just because it's a chance to be directly involved in an emergency I've been following since it started in early 2014, but also because it's a huge opportunity to grow more in this field. As much as the Philippines has been an excellent training ground with the numerous typhoons, floods, monsoon rains and other assorted natural disasters we're affected by yearly, working in Africa introduces a whole different world for living and working.
Abbi is a petite human, blogger, amateur photographer, permanent humanitarian, avid traveller, culture addict, giant bookworm and impossible foodie.