Each day brings an unpredictable variety of events. Last Sunday I woke to the news of an outbreak of viral hemorrhagic fever, which by lunchtime had turned out to be a false alarm (a snake-bite, I think). I spent the afternoon in a plane carrying out a medical evacuation, and the evening at an (informal) security meeting. This weekend, by contrast, has been spent in relative hibernation, in view of political events in the province that have resulted in a somewhat tense atmosphere in town (and a general heightening of security measures). At the same time we are immersed in contingency planning, in preparation for a strike at the General Hospital that could come any day now.
I do feel I am lucky to be here, lucky to have work that is varied and interesting, to work for an organisation that makes a significant positive impact on people’s lives, and has their esteem as a result. It could be said that it is the benevolence of the donors that effects this work, and in that case it is a privilege to direct the application of this benevolence, to be the instrument of reconciliation between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’. Or to go one step further, to be the expression of the conscience of the west.
I wasn’t intending to be so prosaic - but I wanted to recognise that our project, and my presence in it, exists in the context of an array of historical links, economic interactions, and cultural exchanges. As much as Bon Marché has been a response to a humanitarian crisis – and now, in this exit phase, an attempt to build local heath care capacity – it is also the manifestation of a relationship (socio-economic, cultural, humanitarian) between societies. It is a relationship that is complex, and sometimes uncomfortable, since all humanitarian interventions run the risk of disempowering/disenfranchising the beneficiaries. But when I feel positive about this relationship (which is most of the time), it feels hugely rewarding to be part of it – to feel that you are expressing your feelings and your wishes for the world through the work you are engaged in.
So yes I am lucky, and I think I will keep feeling this way until next weekend. For the one downside of having a job that is varied is that (logically) you will sometimes have to do things that you are not so interested in, and that you might even fear. The week after next it’ll be time (once again) to tackle the budget revision. That is why I am trying to enumerate all the good things about the job, to get through the dark times ahead!