Leaving the aid world has been likened to escaping from a cult. I prefer to think of it as overcoming an addiction. There are three options available to us disgruntled, burned out and cynical humanitarians: cold turkey, the gradual withdrawal or death. The same options any old junkie has, whether addicted to drugs, alcohol or aid. The grip is hard to break.
A lucky few go cold turkey. They wander into the party for a few years, have a good time, work in a couple of major operations then announce they are going back to carpentry. Or that they intend to head back to school to study something unrelated. Aid for them is but one of the many phases of life. Those of us who remain harbor a sniffy resentment:
“He wasn’t the real deal.”
“She didn’t have what it takes.”