Development Work Rocks!

June 30th was International Aid Workers Appreciation Day, and as this is my last official blog post, I thought I would reflect a bit on my job category.

I hear a lot about how hard and miserable this job is supposed to be. I’m supposed to be feeling tired and burnt out, as if I were some nub of a candle struggling to keep the flame alive. Most aid workers don’t last long, and every year in the field is another cannon shot to the walls of idealism. With one week left after a year in Kenya, I should be food-lusting for cheeseburgers, annoyed to the edge of sanity by the mosquitoes biting my ankles right now, and looking ever forward to the plane that will take take me home. I shouldn’t even be writing a blog right now out of depression. I should be sulking.

The only problem is that I’m not. I actually kinda like it here. Am I happy to see my family again? Of course! But I already have a weekly video call with them. It’s not the same, but the burden of separation is much lighter. Will I enjoy the delicious and fattening food of America? No question about it! But I really have adapted to the food, the bright sun and the friendly people of Kenya.

Because of my unique circumstances, I broke the Nuru mold and stayed a year when I should have stayed 7 months. We have had lots of breaks with flights back home, and always take Sundays off. This all was designed to prevent burnout, which is supposed to be really high. But I don’t feel it coming on. Not even a little bit.

Why? I’m not sure but I have some guesses. 1. I see results. The programs I’ve helped to build are real, working and continuing. I think this is probably not true of most Development work 2. I have freedom and resources to work. From what I’ve heard of Peace Corps, there isn’t much monetary support for their work. 3. I have good peers. Great friends both to laugh with and think with is a huge boon. I’ve heard horror stories about when this is absent. 4. I have good leadership. I suppose this is true of any job, but when your boss is a great guy, it makes the job much easier. 5. The community is supportive. The people really, really welcome us and encourage us in our work. Though it shouldn’t reduce the value of the work, unappreciative people would have made the job a lot harder. If I had more than a blog entry to write about this, I’m sure I could come up with a million reasons.

In conclusion, I love my job. I’m sorry to leave it. I’ve got to go back to medical school, but would love to do this sort of thing in the future when I get out. But I am just fearing that Nuru has spoiled me. I will definitely look for an organization like Nuru when I am done.