What is it like to work on NGO? This big question suddenly appeared in my head. I still remember it vividly, when I graduated from my uni, I called my mentor during my internship to have a dinner. He offered me an opportunity to continue help him assisting the other intern and managing some of his work. Yet, I refused to do that, just because I think that I had enough time learning, and I should move to another place soon. He then advice me to apply at NGO (just because he thinks that I’ll suit that place, rather than working at aid)
So then, I applied without knowing much about NGO and their works (this is horrible), long story short they called me for interview for job that required person with 5 years experience (they made such a huge mistake for calling me). Yet, somehow they finally offered me the position… and here I am working at one International NGO that based in Indonesia.
How’s working here? First thing that violate my expectation is that people that working here are (mostly) beyond my age! far older than I am. Although I used to be the youngest one, I never really thought that NGO’s people would be this old (LOL!). Second thing is that, they are unexpectedly professional, I did thought that working in NGO will be super easy; waking up late, do a very casual chitchat after arriving at office (DANG!) totally different. I have a rigid office hour (8 am – 5 pm) with 1-hour lunchtime. It took quite long time for me, to finally adapted to the situation (3-4 weeks I guess)
Last month, I think that I finally realized why I love this job. It may sounds cheap and over-romantics but I do mean it. Working here makes me feel that I am doing good, by helping people to have better life. Of course, NGO was not like a fairy-god- mother who changes one life’s in abracadabra way. We did many mistakes, before finally developed precise project for each. Doesn’t mean that I lose my critical view on how NGO and aid works too.
I visited one of our office projects in Semarang. As now, I’m handling climate change resilience projects, site that I visited was obviously related to climate-change adaptation program. I went to (considered as) one of Semarang’s slum area that located below average land level. For the first time in my life, I saw people houses are lower than the road, which then obviously would be sink once the flood happened.
The community leader of the neighborhood told me that they have received capacity building from my office for more than 5 years now. After several flood they experienced, he said everything is pretty much under-control now. They installed automatic water-level measurement in the river, which will send information directly to the leader’s phone. After receiving the information, the leader will disseminate it to the people using mosque speaker. If the electricity got off, they will use kentongan with different rhythms (depends on water level) continuously until everyone safely moved to the shelter. They have this special bag filled with their valuable documents, dry foods, medicine, toiletries and other things (depends on what they identified as important). Each household in the area owns this emergency bag. So, wherever flood comes, they’ll be ready to evacuate themselves.
Seeing this demonstration of the evacuation process made me amazed. These NGO people surely worked hard to train local people and community to do such things (well, it needs more than 5 years to do so in 7 others riverbanks area). Being there at the moment (although it was very hot and I felt so stuffed, had somehow made my heart felt warm).
Yesterday, I met one of my colleagues during internship. He boasted about his salary and savings (this is my least favorite topics to discuss). He worked in multinational bank by the way. Which then I coldly reply “I never, or not yet considered corporate as I place to work for though”. It is not that I by any means tried to say that working at corporate is a bad thing (I believe everyone has their right to pursue what they think is right). But, at least for me, working at corporate which our capacity is merely measured by our sales and achievement is definitely not kind of job that I want to do. Besides, NGO salary is quite much too (this is expectation violation number third) LOL.