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.