Throughout most of my life, I have viewed humanitarian work through the lens of pure personal sacrifice. When I come across people, they immediately start on about how hard our work must be and how much we’ve had to give up to do it. It feels nice to have people say that, and it can create an image of oneself that makes that feel true. However, it is not necessarily the truth.

The work I have had the pleasure to be a part of is not a sacrifice. It actually is a privilege. There is something about the people we work with, something that is quite difficult to explain. However I will try.

I have had the opportunity to work with some of the most neglected people on earth, in war zones and disasters around the world. They have been chased from their homes, watched their babies die and experienced unspeakable trauma. When we engage these people, they are unbelievably gracious and welcoming without hesitation. Every time we visit a place that has experienced such difficulty, one of the first things we always notice is that we cannot fix all their ills. We cannot make everything great for them. But for them, this is ok. They don’t expect that and actually just want us to be a part of what they are already trying to do.

All around the world, today, displaced people are working to improve their lives. They are not sulking about the difficulty they have faced. They are just looking for someone to run this race with them. This is why our serving truly is a privilege. When we are allowed to be a part of the amazing things happening in the lives of suffering people, we are actually being given an opportunity to see our own lives drastically transformed.

-Jaden McNeely