One of the hardest things to swallow was the number of people we got to know who had left their marriages during their career in international humanitarian work.
Many preferred to have non-committal relationships.
The hard truth is that outbreak deployment is hard. Long hours, little to no recreation, loneliness, trauma and fear of death.
Even during the 1-week training, I could understand how temptation can be a real force on the field, of which none of us are immune to.
So for those of who considering international humanitarian or outbreak response work, remember to get your values clear.
The best advice I got from a divorced but very professionally successful colleague was “Make your deployments work for you, not the other way around.”
It was a divorced but professionally- very-successful newfound friend on the trip who shared in confidence with me-
“I wish I hadn’t married my job. My best advice to you is- Make your deployments work for you. Not the other way around.
Go sign up for the Ebola outbreak if you must. But know that it has to be a team effort. Your family is your best team.”
I understand that we might think it’s noble to give up one’s family to serve on the frontlines.
And to some extent, that’s true.
In the pandemic, many of us sacrificed time with family to get deployed, locally and overseas.
But here’s the hard truth that many deployees and I learnt—
You and I cannot stop an outbreak.
We can wring our whole lives dry and guess what? Outbreaks can still spread because of a thousand reasons unrelated to our best efforts.
So here’s my 2 cents in any sphere of work-
Give it your best shot.
Make sacrifices for a noble cause.
But your family comes first- that’s your first and final obligation.
And above that list, is your first love— God and your spouse.