The Joy of Aid Work

My friend recently shared this status update on Facebook. Her description of the joy of aid work resonated with me as I thought it would with readers of

Kirsten Weeks [in Zambia] “realizes that I am happiest on days like today that start with a 6am departure to the airport, visits to a cotton gin, talks with small holder farmers, focus groups at ART clinics with potential problem solving to address nutrition issues, long car rides through rural villages and solving personal life problems under African skies with good friends and good food and great stars – am thinking I want to move back to Southern Africa sooner than I thought…”

When I asked her if I could share her thoughts on, she wrote,  “Real life is with real people sharing real experiences, in African villages or in American cities and towns, not necessarily in sterile cubicles and offices anywhere in the world.”


Where do you find the joy of aid work? Kindly share your thoughts in the comments section.


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  1. It is nice to hear Kirsten speak of the ‘joy’, when far too often we speak of the frustrations, the cynicism. It is a privilege to work in this industry. Kirsten is extremely privileged to do what she does. However, desk-based work should not be looked down upon or derided; compared to the ‘real’ life of working in the field. Most aid & development work is desk-based and we should find joy in what ever capacity we happen to work.

  2. Agreed Brendan. I think what Kristen describes so well is the connection she feels and that can certainly occur between people, regardless of their location.

    Here’s a great article on the joy of aid work on the Social Media 4 Good site: and some great comments on the post on the Peace & Collaborative Development Network:

  3. Agreed! Connecting with people, anywhere, being a part of sustainable development anywhere is what charges me. It is different for my husband who seems to be charged by writing, reading, and delving into the ancient wisdom that so many have forgotten.

    The best thing, in my opinion, is that we all do what is best for us, whether outside, inside, with others or alone.

  4. Clement N Dlamini

    For me the joy of working with rural communities is when the beneficiaries feel motivated to take charge of their situation. I have encouraged communities to appreciate the wealth of knowledge they have at their disposal especially with regards their habitation (during assessments they have educated me about the good and bad in their community). When they become aware of the fact that they are their biggest resource to solving community related problems it puts a smile on my face. I always utilize the strengths based approach to working with communities and this encourages them to keep believing that they are the agents of change within their community settings.

  5. Moji Giman

    The real joy of aid work to me is in the fulfillment and sense of purpose I derive from adding value to a life on a daily basis -whether under the crystal african starry skies or sterile cubicles or skyscrapers of America-the pertinent question to me is-how have I made today worth living for that needy person, for that youth journeying through the maze of life,for that person who is being oppressed for standing for the truth? I cant solve all the problems of this world.but in some way,I can do a golden deed for at least one person per day.

  6. Spending time with people and their organisations, helping them to develop ideas, strategise and then to find the resources they need to bring about the changes they want to see. So it’s much more about putting people in touch with each other to share their respective skills and experience than it is about moving money around. Cash is a necessary but not sufficient resource and, in my experience, is more often than not a distraction. Get the relationships right first!

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