Some say humanitarian workers are heroes. They dedicate their heart and soul to save lives, may it be in a natural or a manmade disaster.
I say we humanitarian workers, like everybody else, are just human beings, doing the best we can, in the ways we know, to help those in need rebuild their lives.
It was in 2013 when I became a humanitarian worker. I entered the field just a few weeks after surviving typhoon Yolanda. An old friend offered me a job in the organization he works for, and while at first I was clueless on what to do, I knew it was all about responding to the thousands of survivors struggling to stand up after the storm took away everything they had.
There were times when I cried at night in despair, for the trauma brought by Yolanda continued to haunt me. I carried this sort of survivor’s guilt since I could not mourn fully for those who lost more than I did. I could not even talk about my feelings in an honest manner in fear of being called ungrateful.
But while it took me time to realize how blessed I was, it soon dawned upon me that being a humanitarian worker is not a cross to bear, but rather a path to learning life in its crudest, harshest forms, and that it’s up to us on how to make the best of it.
I learned that it’s okay to cry, that I am entitled to my own feelings, just like everybody else who got past Yolanda. After all, those who survived lost their sense of normalcy, no matter how first-world these seemed, mine included.
I also came to see that even if we don’t speak much about the hard times, my colleagues were there for support, not only as co-workers, but as friends, as people who have had their own share of ups and downs for us to share, to overcome, and to celebrate.
[Read more of Fae Cheska Marie Esperas’ story]