Working in post conflict countries is a very rewarding job. While working in conflict and post conflict zones you deal with the worst of human conditions, very limited resources and the insanity of war. After some time you get used to it all and it becomes normal. Then comes the day you have to go home. Coming home from such places can actually be quite difficult.
First you realize that you can go home. Most of the people you work with are home and leaving is not an option. Then you begin your travel home, which often entails a flight. Yes the airplane food, drinks and seats. This is a chance to steady yourself for your transition of human hardship to luxury. Now you have the airport lay overs of 2 to 12 hours. Food courts, shopping, liquor, news stands, restaurants, book stores and bars all at the ready. Airports are quickly becoming like the average mall but with a constant change over of customers. Then you set foot on the last flight home.
You can feel the sameness of everyone from your own country, an ease that you are going home. Little bits of home pass by and you hardly notice them at first, until you revert back to that culture. It is then you realize how much the world is now part of you, you have changed in some way. However you are going home to a place that has not changed as you have.
Your heart is still in the communities you have been working with for so long. The faces and routine you have come to know all dance in your mind. The struggles you over came make you smile and some you could do nothing about make you tear up. Perhaps you drink, pray, write, chat watch movies or sleep for most of the time but you always go between what you now know as your homes – the one you left and the one you are going to.
The world has changed for you. Then you get home and for some the world is the same as when you left. Food, water, electricity, medicine and housing are all in abundance. The newspaper has articles which argue how much of a social safety net is too much? Actors, singers, sports players are often more popular than the police chief, who actually does something. It all sinks into your mind and it grates as you wonder if anyone is paying attention to what is going on?
You are tired and just want to be alone to let the world sink in as you try to grasp how could there be so much difference, you only traveled for 26 hours. The world closes in on you and you see similarities in the faces of people from your home where you left on some of the people in the home, where you are now. People, you have seen them at their worst, their best and now you see them in between. You smile and look around as you wonder, this is what we strive for? Peace is what we each must decide for ourselves and when you know what it is for you, you realize that everyone else is trying to do the same thing.
Then you see the homeless person and you feel the weight of the world because you know that all you can offer is a smile, a comforting word and maybe a dollar or two. So you give what you can and then you see that same smile of thanks you felt two days ago from that lady you helped. Now you are changed again. How long before you go back?