Local aid workers are on the front line of the world’s crises, even if they’re frequently overshadowed in the global humanitarian sector.
We spoke to three of our staff members to learn about what it’s really like to be a humanitarian.
“It can be emotionally draining to work in the humanitarian sector. However, there are many good parts that compensate you for the bad parts! Feeling that you were able to contribute to improving other people’s lives, helping them to cope with the hardships they are experiencing, and feeling that you are making a positive impact in their lives is all very rewarding. The relationships that you build with the people you serve is probably the best part of this work.”
Huda works in Emergency Assistance – she is responsible for carrying out home visits, needs-assessments, and distributions at both CRP’s centers. At the Downtown center, Huda also facilitates programs like GBV, Women Empowerment and the bi-monthly CVT (Centre for Victims of Torture) trauma-awareness sessions.
She has a background in English teaching, having worked at JRS in Amman for a year before being contacted by CRP.
“I had never heard about CRP before! They were relatively unknown to Sudanese and Somalian communities until the Downtown center was opened. One day, I received a phone call from Samer, saying he was looking for employees from certain nationalities, and I’m Somalian, so they wanted me.
Working in the humanitarian sector wasn’t originally my plan, but since I’ve experienced displacement and went through similar things to the people I work with, it makes sense. I’ve taken a course in psychosocial case management and am completing a diploma in social work right now. So I would say I’m considering doing this work forever!
One of the biggest problems in this work is funding – I feel like people are not taking the refugee crisis seriously anymore, it’s become the ‘norm’ and no one is donating as much as before.
Despite this, we do our best – I think CRP has a really great relationship with beneficiaries, of course, we are not always perfect but we help when we can.
Humanitarian work is one of the few things I’m really passionate about – it’s one of those jobs that you want to wake up for!”
Karam is the Director of the Youth Development Program. She is responsible for everything from coordinating the day-to-day activities of Youth Programs to strategically planning the future of the program. As a Jordanian, she is part of a host community that has received a huge influx of refugees in recent years – but she says this shouldn’t change the community’s response.
“Human suffering is the same, no matter where they are from and whether they are Jordanian or not. Vulnerable people need help, and I’m glad I can do something for them. I’ve worked in education for years – as a teacher, and in professional development and training. In the past, I worked with people who had been out of a structured school setting for several years and putting them back on track required a lot of innovative thinking. That’s why I came to CRP, as it’s a similar context.
When I first joined CRP, I just had one member of staff; Munah, and one program – now, we have a whole department, several programs including Supergirls, and we are planning to open a new preschool program. We also have expanded our educational programs at the Downtown Center. It’s amazing to see how CRP has grown and as long as there are challenges here at CRP – as long as I am always learning – I will stay here. As long as I can continue to contribute meaningfully, I’ll be here for the long-run.
At the moment, there are 56 million children out of school and the task ahead of us is huge. There is a lot to be done and it’s not an easy job – it will take time and patience. I hope CRP can continue to grow, and continue to improve our quality. I hope our work will continue to be meaningful and impact children’s lives forever.”
Naseer has worked for NGOs in many different situations and contexts, beginning at Caritas in Iraq before moving to JRS in Erbil, Kurdistan, and finally coming to CRP. At CRP, Naseer really does everything and anything needed – this generally includes data management, IT and website management, and communications work like photography and videography. He has also recently designed an app for CRP to use in Emergency Assistance! As a completely indispensable member of the team, it’s hard to remember that Naseer is professionally a photographer, and started working with refugees due to events in Iraq.
“In 2014, internally-displaced people (IDPs) began coming to my city from Mosul and Baghdad. They were mostly Christians and Yazidis who were fleeing persecution and terrorism. When they came they had nothing – they left their homes with money, clothes, anything. When I saw all these kids, I don’t know, something happened to me, I felt like I needed to help these people. Everyone should be responsible for helping refugees.
So I started working with small local charities that were distributing items and food to help them, we found them homes to stay in sometimes. Then I worked with Caritas for around 1 year and a half, before 2014, before ISIS. I worked with medical assistance and emergency assistance. I was so happy there.
This feeling is so good when you help people in need. You can sleep at night. You feel like you’ve really done something and when you see the people you helped smiling, it’s really rewarding.
In 2014, many people were displaced because of ISIS and traveled to Erbil. We had both IDPs and refugees from Syria. We even had refugees from Sudan! All these people came, like, the same day. I remember seeing thousands of people standing on the street, with nothing. Erbil is very expensive, and it took the government a couple of months to start preparing refugee camps… It was very difficult for these people to find shelter. Like before, I worked with other people (like a start-up) to provide basic support for the refugees – water, food, clothing, and so on.
Then I began working with JRS in 2015. I learned a lot there because JRS is a big organization with money and many different projects. I began working in data and communications.
Eventually, I moved my family from Iraq to Jordan, because I didn’t feel we were safe there. I tried to work as a photographer in Amman, but after one month I just felt like something was missing. My salary was good and everything, but I needed something more. I didn’t feel like I was meant to be there.
Before I joined CRP, I heard a lot about it. I did my research, and everyone in the refugee communities in Amman recommended them. CRP is a very small organization so I also felt like it was a new challenge – when I first started, we made the videos for social media on our mobile phones! Of course, I started working in communications, taking photographs and videos and making it all a lot more professional. I ended up working in data and IT again because it can take a long time here to fix things like the wifi… I can’t say no when someone asks me for help!
The worst part about working with refugees is when you can’t help someone. I live here in Hashemi (the neighborhood of one of CRP’s centers) and I interact with refugees living here who don’t have enough to eat, have absolutely no money… CRP has a small capacity, we can only help so many people.
As a family here… I have one daughter… I’m concerned for her future. In Jordan, as refugees, we don’t have anything. I miss my family, especially around Christmas-time.
But I think I’ll stay here, at CRP. JRS asked me to come and I said no in the end – because CRP is really special. People tell me all the time that CRP is a second home for them. I’ve seen a lot of different NGOs, and really CRP is doing good. As long as I’m in Jordan, I’ll be here. And wherever I go, I will stay with refugees.”