Fond farewells and friendships

Something I can’t get used to is the rapid turnover of staff in the field. Short-term contracts and changing programme structures has seen many of my fellow team members come and go over the past two months. More will leave in the coming weeks.

I have felt as if I am constantly attending leaving parties and saying goodbye, particularly heightened in the last few days as I waved off colleagues who had become good friends. It is hard to build relationships with people who are only around for a few months, by the time you have built a good friendship it is time for them to leave.

This can take its toll, the constant va-et-vient of colleagues and co-workers, people tiring of new faces and preferring to stick with their established friendships, not wanting to invest in a new friendship only to have to say goodbye weeks or months later.

It is a phenomenon that seems to be peculiar to disaster relief work, short-term contracts are created in response to a disaster and as the situation calms, aid workers leave for the next country. I am still in the ‘newbie’ category and have been spared some of the cynicism and weariness that comes from long-term service in the field. I hope that I will continue to remember what it felt like when I first arrived and will be able to welcome new faces with the same amount of enthusiasm as when I first arrived!


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