Rumble: I Am an Aid Worker. Help!

In The New Gypsies, posted on The Aid Workers Network, Shylock wrote:

An Aid Worker in dire need for help. Peter on the USS Coronado during the RIMPAC2000 Humanitarian emergency simulation"You're an aid worker with 5-10 years experience under your belt. You earn a pittance but it works for you because you are non-resident at home so you don't pay tax, you are catered for on assignment so you don't pay rent and your mortgage is covered by the people renting your place because you are never there. You can't hold down a relationship for more than 3 months and you secretly know that despite what you tell him/her its really not because you're only ever there for 3 months... its because you're addicted to independence.

Things are OK now but you're approaching 40. Shouldn't you grow up?

Seriously though... what does the future hold? What *can* the future hold for us?

Option 1. You go back to a headquarter job. Instead of doing what you want to do, you now advise people who are doing what you used to do. You earn the same more or less as you did before, but your costs of living shoot skywards because you're now paying tax, rent/mortgage and utilities... You consider sharing accommodation and, bingo, you're a student again!

Option 2. You go work for the UN. Keep the job you love and the lifestyle that goes with it. Your salary jumps to levels that used to get you all riled after a few dirty martinis back when you used to work for "honest" down-to-earth INGOs. Now you're cynical about them all and aggressively defend your need to raise a nest egg to plough the way for the family/dog/cottage/brats you're planning. You've done your bit after all. You do this for a while before you realize you sacrificed the very dream you were once working towards.

Option 3. You find something suitable in the commercial sector and live happily ever after. (By the way, if you're a logistician, forget it).

Option 4. You retrain and change course. You take a massive pay cut. Your skills and experience in aid work go unused. You marry someone named Steve/Janice and drive something practical that "gets good mileage".

Option 5. You write your memoirs and someone makes a movie out of it starring Leonardo De Caprio. You become an even more arrogant git, lose all your friends, and make a lot of cash. (This can happen to only one of us by the way).

Option 6. Remember the lonely, jaded expat sat at the bar in [substitute 3rd world capital here], letching over young local girls and making snide remarks about your naive ways? Welcome to your future...

Suggestions for further career options welcome.

Ozdzan in Iraq.Are we the new gypsy? I have visions of huge bands of ex-aid worker families roaming the European countryside in caravans (plastered in no-gun stickers of course), scratching out a life by erecting latrines and taking stock counts..... and maybe seeking charity door-to-door...

Is there an aid agency out there that *doesn't* bang on about work/life balance and how it cares for its staff? Is there an aid agency out there that actually has a program for actively rehabilitating serial aid workers back into western life? How could it work? How (if at all) is the situation different for our colleagues from Southern countries? How can we save our dignity, our salaries, our relationships and at the same time stay in the work we love and avoid wasting our skills and experiences....?"

Check out this post with all the comments here.


Marie France Bourgeois 05 October, 2007 01:04  


So you start it, simple....... I`ll come work with you.

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