Mission position

Approx read: 2 mins

You Might Be Humanitarian Aid Worker If:

You have a name in at least two different languages, and it’s not the same one.

The best aid workers can communicate effectively with the people they are trying to help. This often means abandoning ‘Charles Vernon Fonsnitch the Fourth’ for the much easier-to-pronounce ‘Pheakdei.’ Not only is the switch easier for Cambodian speakers, but it shows cultural sensitivity. As Pheakdei means ‘loyal and honest,’ it’s a much cooler name than Chuck V. Fonsnitch IV, which means ‘stuffy and boring.’

You can cut grass with a machete, but can’t start a lawnmower.

Experienced aid workers become wizards at fixing complicated things with low-tech tools. Go ahead, feel like a rock star- nobody in Sudan knows that you still can’t figure out your toaster at home.

You consider parasites, dysentery or tropical diseases to be appropriate dinner conversation.

Co-workers love to talk about the day’s work the world over. For humanitarians new to medical missions, dinner can be a gruesome business. The reality in the field is a grim reminder of why it’s important to get good travel medical insurance before your trip. Get your shots. Don’t count on finding a drug store anywhere nearby.

You have stopped in the middle of an argument to find the translation of a word.

So you’ve spent all this time learning local languages and customs. Shouldn’t your health insurance do the same? Be sure to get a policy that has agents in your region. You shouldn’t have to spend time arguing and translating. If things get hairy, you need someone who can talk to you and the medical staff. Aid work occurs in places where access to proper emergency health care isn’t easily available. Does your policy cover medical evacuation for Humanitarian Aid workers?

You know the capitals of 90 countries, but struggle with the names of 5 European football teams.

Although humanitarian aid work attracts bright, curious and interesting people, it certainly isn’t glamorous.

Aid work is important for two big reasons: to help people and to try to get people back home more informed and involved in your cause. Take care of the needy, and take care of yourself.

Author Google

Sarah is a blogger, writer and amateur palaeontologist from New Orleans. When not writing or digging dinosaurs, she teaches English.