It’s been two weeks since I started work at Oxfam as a campaigner on their Conflict & Humanitarian campaign.
We are currently focusing on two priority countries: Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Joining the team made me realize how little I know, or care, about some countries such as the Congo. Also, it’s easy to forget and then move on to the next disaster or emergency. When I was narrating to Asim the horrors of the violence and human rights abuses happening in the DRC, known as the ‘rape capital of the world’, he was shocked and asked me why we didn’t hear about it more often. That’s a good question. I guess it’s because we’re only concerned about things that either directly affect us or relate to some part of our identity or those that are super politicised. Of course it’s not possible to know or care about every country out there, but being in international development and concerned about such issues, I feel I should know something about everything!
The only downside of the job is that I’m commuting on average 2.5 hours each way. That’s 5 hours of journey time a day! Some days I’ve been so exhausted that I come home and hit the bed and then it’s hard to even get up and eat dinner. But the actual commute itself, apart from when the tube gets delayed, is not too bad. I take a book along with me or nap on the way back. Thanks to my commute, I finally finished my thick copy of the White Mughals. Now I’m reading Orhan Pamuk’s ‘Istanbul: Memories of a city’. I love Turkey. It’s an unconditional irrational love founded on nothing more than that as a kid I was told my name was Turkish. That’s it. And that makes it on top of my list of places to see in the world.
Sorry I digress :) Coming back to work…
These two weeks passed by in a blur. I feel like I’ve been there for ages. I was super busy but I didn’t feel overwhelmed. That’s a good sign right? But in other ways, I also feel terribly new. I realize I’ve got a lot to learn to feel confident about what I’m doing. My first boss in Pakistan, this amazing woman who I was totally intimidated by, had once said to me that I seemed like I was in a hurry to get somewhere very fast. I needed to learn to walk first before I ran. I see that about myself now. I want to learn everything right away. I want to be able to come up with great world-changing projects overnight. I want to be able to sit in meetings with all the ‘big guys’ and not feel stupid or intimidated. I want to be able to say amazing insightful things that people would listen to. Basically, I want to be amazing. Lol. I know I know, by saying all that, I admit what an ambitious little kid I am :D
The people on my team are great and the whole place is incredibly friendly. I love the atmosphere. It’s got such a great buzz about it. I remember talking to a friend some time back when I told him having visited Oxfam House for a meeting (I was doing an internship in London for Oxfam before this job), I fell in love with the place. I can’t describe what I felt but it was almost like a longing to want to be a part of something like that. An organisation that I respected; a workplace that was nice and friendly and where I would enjoy working. Oh yeah and did I mention, the food is great! Yes I have my priorities very clearly defined: buzz, people, respect and food.
Walking in to work or sitting down for lunch or when I have a moment to reflect (sometimes in the prayer room), I look around me and can’t believe I’m where I wanted to be. If in a few months from now I start whining about work or lose my starry-eyed optimism, please smack me.