The Aid Work ABCs

An ode to the work we love… most of the time.

Aid work is pretty great. We spend every day supporting communities that have been affected by humanitarian crises, and that if often a huge gift. There are days that are rewarding and exhilerating; there are also days when we’re tired, worried, or tempted to throw our laptops out the window (don’t worry, we’ve never actually done it).

We decided to come up with a set of ABCs that celebrates this work that we love. This isn’t meant to be a serious representation of the ABCs of aid work. We respond to many situations that cannot be treated lightly – hunger, displacement, limited access to health services among them – and for that reason, we haven’t included these below.

But here is an ode to the work that we love – for all of its triumphs, heartbreak, and frustrations.


A is for access to go and respond.

B is for borders to venture beyond.

C is for coffee (countless cups every day),

D is for dancing to keep stress at bay.

E is for email, both a friend and a foe.

F is for framework (if you know, you know).

G is for glasses; where have I put mine?

H is for hope, so much of the time.

I is for internet (please don’t let it be down),

J is for jetlag and new arrivals in town.

K is for knowledge and numbers numerical,

L is for laughter (sometimes hysterical).

M is for mozzie dome, so often our bed,

N is for nexus, about which we’ve all read.

O is for OCHA (coordination is key),

P is for Programmes, HR, and IT.

Q is for quarantine, for our teams now a ‘must,’

R is for research; in best practice we trust.

S is for story; so many we hear,

T is for team life, for time with our peers.

U is for urgent, to get out and go.

V is for vaccines; they save lives, we know.

W is for water, which keeps us hydrated,

X is for X-ray (creativity’s overrated).

Y is for yearning for loved ones back home,

Z is for Zoom calls (we beg you: no more).


These are the letters of the aid worker’s life;

There’s boredom, fatigue, and good cheer.

It’s a calling, a passion, a job that we love.

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This content was produced by a staff member in the middle of a scorching summer’s night while she was being kept awake by a mosquito. If you’re being called to make these ABCs part of your life, we’re always on the lookout for talented staff to join our teams. Take a look at our vacancies page to see if we have a role that catches your fancy!

Medair services around the world are provided in line with our seven values: integrity, faith, compassion, hope, accountability, and dignity. This piece was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and headquarters staff. The views expressed herein are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organisation.