What it's really like to be an emergency response officer

A man walks by the barrack-type shelters at the Rakhine camp for the internally-displaced Rohingya people in Myanmar. These camps were built by various international aid organizations, serving as emergency housing for 90,000 IDPs after the violence at the western Rakhine State. Photo by: Mathias Eick, EU/ECHO / CC BY-ND

“Emergency response” often conjures idealized images of aid workers doling out food and medicine to exhausted families as they arrive at a refugee camp or consoling children left traumatized by acts of violence.

But sitting long into the night working on proposals, budgets and reports, I discovered that the office rats in Yangon normally started scuttling around at 9 p.m., that the barbecue place downstairs stopped serving food at 10 p.m. and that cycling home under a pale full moon through the rutted and muddy backstreets was a respite to the previous 12 hours staring at a computer screen.

About the author

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    Dani Patteran

    Dani Patteran is a freelance journalist and researcher based in Yangon, Myanmar. With a background in humanitarian aid, she covers humanitarian and development stories in Myanmar for a range of outlets. Prior to Myanmar, she lived and worked in the Palestinian territories and South Sudan.