“When I was growing up, nuns and priests were the teachers. Some of them from our area were working overseas with different organisations. They would come home every so often and tell us about their experiences. I remember listening to their stories with awe. It sounded so exciting, so colourful and fulfilling. I decided to go and volunteer overseas for a few years before I resumed a normal life back home. I started working at the Thai – Cambodian border with refugees after the genocide of Pol Pot. I was young and inexperienced. I was expecting that we would live in a jungle in mud huts but then I arrived into Bangkok Airport and this huge, busy city. I liked my time working there but it wasn’t the life experience I was craving. About a year into my two-year service, I was called to Ethiopia. It was very much what I expected the first time. We were living in the middle of nowhere, where the rain would wash away our tent and we would have to rebuild it in the middle of the night. We were dealing with the very beginnings of the famine, working with sick people and starving children. Working around these people made me realise that there is no ‘us and them’ and that we are all part of a global village, so why should we feel so privileged on one side of the world to forget about those in need? The environment and these thoughts get into your blood and that’s the one I could not walk away from. We were working from sunrise to sunset, often seven days a week, but it was more like reading an exciting book where you are part of the story. You can’t just close it in the middle and walk away from it, right? Thirty-seven years into my story, I can say that I’ve had a tremendous life with Concern. I’ve worked in some of the most difficult and dangerous places but we were able to do work that has impacted thousands of lives directly. There are people alive today because I do what I do and there is nothing more fulfilling than that thought.”
This is Anne O’Mahony, she is the International Programme Director and part of the Senior Management Team at Concern.
Today is #WorldHumanitarianDay it’s an international day dedicated to recognizing humanitarians and those who have lost their lives working for humanitarian causes. Read more stories from Concern’s Overseas team on Concern Worldwide channels.