The Business of Helping People is as Difficult as it is Rewarding

Ray Taylor is the author of an incredibly interesting book, Mr. Ray Would Like a Monkey. Ray wrote the memoir about how a health scare propelled him into humanitarian work. Ray was running a business when he was admitted to hospital with what was suspected to be a heart attack. In hospital he reflected on his life and decided that there were many things he would have done differently. “I’ve obviously made a mistake, if I get through this, I’ve got to do things differently” Ray recalls remarking to a nurse.  

As a dad of three aged between 10 and 19, it was a bold choice for Ray to choose working for a humanitarian organisation. The decision also required Ray to move away from his successful business. Stepping back and reconsidering his life allowed Ray to gain the flexibility to take time off in order to make a positive difference in the world. It is important for all professionals to consider the long-term consequences of their decisions, and prevent any future feelings of regret.  

Finding a Charity to Work With 

For many charities, two to three months was not a long enough commitment. The minimum time for aid organisations is often two to three years. Charities want people to really get to know them and work with the program for a long time before committing. Ray struggled to find a program that would accept him for a shorter term, but he managed to find a niche charity with emergency aid that was willing to accept his experience for a shorter period of time. The ability to lead and react quickly to problems made it easier for Ray to succeed as a charity worker.  

Photo Credit: Larm Rmah, Unsplash

Risk and Reward 

Coordinating the supply of emergency aid to areas in need is not easy and aid workers must have an eye for detail. It is highly important that a company does not overspend on supplies if they are to keep running. Ray’s first posting was in Bosnia, and this was a huge culture shock. Music kept Ray going and encouraged him if ever doubts began to creep in.  

A minimum amount of training is provided before workers are sent on the ground. Volunteers have to be prepared to avoid land mines, traps and other dangerous environments. Bravery and caution are needed to succeed as an oversees worker in war zones and having a sharp intuition and heightened awareness of surroundings are particularly important for anyone looking to pursue humanitarian work. Working in war struck environments is straining on all aid workers, and the concentration needs to always be on the victims, and it can often be difficult for workers such as Ray to detach themselves from the politics of it all and remain focused.  

The Lesson Learnt from Humanitarian Work 

Culture shock can be very difficult to deal with, and many of the countries Ray visited were so dystopic in comparison to everything he had come to know up until that point. Creative inspiration, friends and family helped to keep Ray motivated on his travels, as well as feeling that he was answering a calling. Ray Taylor’s story is proof that anyone can turn their life around and make changes that allow them to feel like they have created a meaningful legacy. The world is full of projects that need completing and people that need help, and persisting in this pursuit allows fulfillment, satisfaction and a feeling of contribution to the greater good. 

Listen to Ellen Gunning’s conversation with Ray Taylor on Spotify:

Originally aired on Dublin City FM’s Mediascope Programme.

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