Rumble: As an Aidworker, What Right Do We Have to Be Privileged?

In quite a few of the short stories I published, and in those written by Enrico or Cyprien, we tried to draw a picture of how it is to live in the 'bush'. In what we call 'the deep field'. In the remote places of Africa or Asia.

Frida, working for a human rights organisation in Ghor, 'the deep field' of Afghanistan, struggles in a recent post trying to find a balance between finding healthy food, without depleting the scarce resources on the local market or flying in food, and trying to keep body and mind healthy. Or should we really eat what those we serve eat...

Comes with the ethical question 'what make us, the aid workers, different from those we are trying to help?' What right do we have to be more privileged? A feeling and a struggle - I must admit - has been pushed more and more on the background of my mind since I started to work from our Headquarters in Rome, even though I wrote about it at the end of my short story about working with the refugees in Goma.

I guess, the answer is: we are more privileged than those we serve. And as long as we realize that fact, and that we continue to be grateful for this privilege, the only thing we can do is to try serving those we help even better.

PS: Frida also has a photo blog with absolutely astonishing pictures of Afghanistan. Have look!

Picture courtesy Debbi Morello


Marianne 18 November, 2007 03:27  

Thanks Peter - in the end recognising and "admitting" our privilege is the first key step. Then I think we have to be sure that our presence is making a positive difference. For me, in Ghor, I have been able to see that - so the ethics of the cost of keeping me there are less crippling. If I started to doubt the benefits to the people in the community of my work then that would bring up a whole new set of questions I guess.

I wonder if I will remain as acutely aware of my privilege after 6 months back in NZ? Here's hoping.

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