Four months in Myanmar, three months in Yemen and then five months in Turkey. While most of these destinations sound like many people’s worst nightmare, there is a certain type of person to whom these sound ideal: international aid workers.
Imagine living in the bush in sub-Saharan Africa working 10, 12-hour days, hundreds of miles away from anything resembling a city, to coordinating aid packages for war refugees in less-than-safe locations, to being the first crew on the ground after an international disaster like a tsunami.
While one might choose to invest themselves longer in a particular country or region, the life and work of a humanitarian is vastly different than your typical 9 – 5 grind.
Despite the long hours and penchant for danger, working ‘in the field’ for an NGO remains one of the hardest careers to snag post-college.
“It is not an easy sector to get into,” says Martha Reggiori-Wilkes, a millennial who has worked with an international NGO in both South Sudan and Lebanon. “It can sound like a quite romantic thing to do. And there are lot of very, very good people who want to do it.”
Although Reggiori-Wilkes loves working for a humanitarian aid organization, she “[has] a lot of friends in the sector who when they go home…feel very detached. They are doing such different work and living in such different worlds.”
Bonding with fellow ex-pats, being exposed firsthand to a different way of life, the ability to affect change through work and the opportunity for travel are all reasons why working for a humanitarian agency in a developing country can be such a sought-after job. Not only is the work fulfilling, but it is edifying, immersing you in a completely new culture and way of thinking.
[Alexandra Talty, writing in Forbes]