Two weeks

This week’s post is written by J, a humanitarian aid worker, novelist and prolific blogger whose sites include Tales from the Hood, AidSpeak, and co-creating Stuff Expat Aid Workers Like. To stay up-to-date with J’s aid-related writing, commentary, and fiction, check out his Evil Genius websitefacebook and twitter pages. 

empty-desk

Source: Waters True Value wants you to know how to organize your desk

Two weeks. That’s how long it takes, on average, for the so-called high performing and indispensable aid worker to be forgotten. You know, the one who knew the local language and culture so well they were “practically local”? Or the one who threw the fabulous parties, or the one who always knew who in the host government to ask for what. Or maybe it was the one who—by sheer force of will or expertise—managed to accomplish what no one else had prior.

Everyone else was certain this person was irreplaceable, that the office or programme just could not go on without him or her. And you know what? Within ten working days – just two weeks – their old office or cubicle had already been reassigned, IT had reformatted their old computer, and their old position had either been refilled or their responsibilities divvied up among those left behind.

I once knew a guy who got blindsided by a downsize dressed up as a restructure. It was a shitty way for the organization to move him along, and everyone felt it. Staff were incensed and outraged in the coffee room. He’d had a long and illustrious career. He had Continue reading

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Being part of a humanitarian power couple: Lessons from the inside

 

This post is written by @josh_chaffin. The author did NOT choose the title of this post OR the photo, but indulged our aid worker sense of humor. 

One partner gets the job in a new country, the other stays flexible, comes along for the ride and makes it work. Repeat as necessary.

Be willing to have your partner disappear for a week or three weeks, a month or three months, all the time. Especially if one of you is consulting, which will usually be the case.  One year, before we had a kid, we were apart like 30% of the year.

But when you have a kid, suddenly the hardship posts and tons of travel for consulting are no longer possible. So you scramble to find two HQ or family duty posts and hold onto them for dear life. It’s not a family-friendly industry, or even a relationship-friendly industry. It’s littered with failed relationships and single people. You need to find a Continue reading

Sacrifice

This is in response to a blog prompt from The Daily Post to write about “Sacrifice.”

Prompted by the downward spiral of my country’s political process, I started binge-watching The West Wing again yesterday. I didn’t see it the first time around, when everyone was using Martin Sheen’s characterization of President Josiah Bartlet to escape the Bush presidency. It wasn’t until 2011 when, reeling from a few very personal losses, I took a leave of absence from my job and, instead of flying off to Chad as originally planned, moved into a studio apartment in the Lower East Side.

It was a sublet from a film accountant who had gone to Rhode Island to work on Moonrise Kingdom. Aside from being in enviably close proximity to Wes Anderson and his usual cast of characters, she had LOTS of DVDs–including the entire 7 seasons of The West Wing. As someone who doesn’t watch much TV,  I only made it to season 3 before moving out and Continue reading