Hi there! I was never exactly a relief worker, but in my previous life I did work in International Development and in Homeless Services. So I worked with vulnerable populations in New Delhi, India and on the streets of San Francisco, CA. The best part about it (for me) was having my eyes opened to the world and seeing all the ways that people "get by" and survive (and even thrive!) when they're giving just a little support (given housing, given food, given education, given clothes, etc.). Plus there's nothing like having a direct impact and knowing that your efforts are going to immediately make someone else's life better. And even in the most dire circumstances, you can see glimpses of hope & love.
But the worst part is seeing SO MUCH suffering...and so much need....and knowing that the problems are so much bigger than any one person can solve.
This kind of work is TOUGH. I've always felt in my heart the need to serve others and help. But after 10 years of this kind of work, I got exhausted...and burnt out....and unfortunately, a bit disillusioned with the world. So now I work in the tech industry.
My advice to you (and to anyone, really), is to do what you love. Do what gives you energy & makes you come alive! If relief work is it for you (and for many people it is....many of my friends continue to work in this sector today!), then KUDOS to you! We need people in these roles so desperately. And thank you, thank you, thank you for your service to humanity.
But my second piece of advice, if you do go into this work, is to PACE yourself & find regular ways to CARE for yourself so that you don't become burnt out. There's a fabulous book called "Trauma Stewardship" which gives concrete ways to care for yourself when you're caring for traumatized individuals. I highly recommend you check it out.
And finally - know that there are MANY ways to help. Even though I'm not doing social sector work now, I do have time (and energy) to volunteer. So find what works for you. And good luck!!!