Single Amazing Female Humanitarian Aid Workers: SAFHAWs

Humanitarian aid workers love acronyms.  That is why it would be improper for me to pen a piece on aid workers without at least one:  SAFHAWS.  

 Who are we?  What makes us tick?  Why have we chosen the paths we have?  Clearly, no one has forced us at gun point to live in Juba, Kinshasa, Port-au-Prince, or Lilongwe.  I do not know of any social studies of this demographic – but would certainly love to. 

 What are our individual stories?  Why are we single?  Do we choose to be? Is our commitment to saving the world greater than our desire to have a life long relationship or procreate? Is this an either / or question? How do we feel about the paths we have chosen?  Any regrets? Do we love our lives?  How does moving around the world at sometimes breakneck speed affect the relationships we have?  What role does our faith play in setting the course of our lives?  Do we long for the lives of our sisters and our high school best friends – those living on tree-lined streets with two kids, a husband and a golden retriever?  What about when we return to our home countries – usually working in a global capital?  What do we dream our futures to be?

 This is not meant to be a defense of our choices and our lives, but more an exploration into them.  It is about celebrating who we are.  My own personal story weaves itself through a history of adventures and relationships – some serious, some less so, one of the almost-a-soulmate kind.   I love my life and would not change any of my decisions – except perhaps letting the almost-a-soulmate go.   But the fact that my future continues to unfold and I cannot predict with any certainty where I will be in three years remains exciting to me. I am lucky to truly  believe that my work is meaningful.  It is freeing that I do not have a mortgage.  I love my friends – and my life.

 To you SAFHAWs out there – I hope to have more conversations with you. 

I am intrigued by these women who live unconventional lives.  They inspire me and give me courage.

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7 thoughts on “Single Amazing Female Humanitarian Aid Workers: SAFHAWs

  1. SWEET MOTHER OF BABY JESUS!!!! You updated your blog!! This makes me as happy as (INSERT HERE)!!!! WOO HOO!!!!! I have soooooooooooooooo missed you Ms. HUMANITARIAN 2012!!!!!!!!!

  2. Oh my sweet girl Amy, Ditto on the updating your blog making me so happy. You are, and will continue to be, a gift to all of those close and far who cherish you. Love you so much. Aunt Maur

  3. we could also speak about FSAFHAWS-Former Single Amazing humanitarian aid workers 🙂 a sub-category. or NTSWTAAM-FSAFHAWS (Not So Sure What They Are Anymore Former…..amazing women)

    in any case: YOUPIIIIII There is now an official category in which the mis-fit I am can somewhow fit. at least, relate to. you made my day 🙂

    well, in this respect, personally I don’t regret my choices . I never wanted the suburban life. Sine 18 I’ve been fleeing routine and seeking adventure, Had hunger for discovery. the world was my playground. I wanted ot understand.

    Its difficult for a normal (“he who follows the norm”) man to understand this life and priorities, “fit” in this, let alone to “follow”, Its difficult to find a man who would fit this aspirations and at the same time be there physically and mentally available and willing to share and all this in the same timeframe. And for a long time. Etremely difficult.

    The choices. I don’t know to what extent they were choices. A strong will to live. Adventure, Learning, Awe, Solitude. Some degree of enlightment. The feeling of BEING IN the world, To act, to be part of it and not a spectator. the feeling of achievement, somewhat having crossed the fronteir between the sofa and the TV screen, To be in the other side. To be there, instead of to be looking at it. part of a bigger picture in which we felt we could breing our drop in the ocean to change injustice and make a better world. Love under blinding stars, tobboganing in dunes with a sexy dark young lonely french aid worker in remote Tombouctou.

    Of course, it all comes with a price. a good, older (humanitarian, female, amazing, misfit) friend of mine told me one day: be sure you don’t miss the net exit. IT was 4 years ago, and I still managed to fuck it up. Relationships are dismantled slowly, or never get to start. Losing people through this gradual distancing from what makes the everyday reality of non-aid-people. An impression to have lived in a bubble. Was it all worth it? I dont think so. The industry is mercyless.

    There is some excitement that remains in the idea itself of going yet again away. like a promise. Except that there is not anymore a “home” to go “away” from. This means being lost. I dont know how old you are. But for me, now, well into my thirties, with no partner, my friends away in missions or lost like me, others also gradually lost by distancing, no child and no labrador (I’d prefer a saved-from abandonement-dog) while I dont regret all choices (they made me who I am), I think I was impulsive, naive, idealist and stubborn. I clearly made mistakes, but I cant identify exactly at what point. And as time passes, choices get less and less…And I tell you, in a way: dont’t miss the next exit. you dont need ot get away from the industry, but in any case, don’t miss the exit.

  4. Pingback: Baby of mine | Women Working in Aid and Development

  5. Pingback: Baby of mine | Women in Aid

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