“I’ve been working for CARE since May 2007, when I first started as field coordinator and capacity building officer. Now I’m a governance advisor for a project called Tufaidike wote which means ‘win-win’ in our local language. Overall I’ve been working in humanitarian affairs for twelve years. I am 41 years old, I have four children and I was born in Lubero but raised in Rutshuru, in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo.
I decided to become a humanitarian aid worker because it allows me to directly work with people who need help. Although it’s a stressful job at times, I’m passionate about it. I find it enriching. It’s not only that we help those who need assistance, we learn every day so much about people’ lives, the situation and how we can improve our aid.
I like it that humanitarian work is multi-cultural and multi-sectoral. I find it very satisfying.
Also, I find this work helps me realizing what my personal weaknesses are and to develop myself so that I can overcome them. For example, I remember that not long ago we became aware of a group of people who had fled their homes due to fighting in North Kivu. They had to leave their homes quickly with only the clothes on their backs. CARE had planned to assist them and we were one of the only actors. I was glad we could provide food, but many of these people were still sleeping outside. I looked high and low to find an organization to give us tents. I had to solve this problem to find a solution. Finally, I found one organization that delivered tents for the people who needed them most while CARE distributed food. It was empowering to fill that gap and to coordinate along with other humanitarian actors.
We alone can never satisfy all the needs of people in difficulty. We must always work with other actors to respond to all needs.
One of the things I really like about CARE is the shift in approach to aid. We have introduced a voucher and coupon system. This way, we empower the households and allow them to choose what they need. They can buy it at local markets, supporting local vendors. We have found out that people continue to use the things they “purchased” with our coupons with greater frequency compared to when we just hand them out relief-items. I also believe it’s a more dignified way of providing assistance to people.
I also like that we provide assistance to families who are hosting Congolese displaced by conflict. That sort of activity, the act of hosting a displaced person, is the embodiment of African solidarity. People here don’t want to see people living in tents in camps. We call them ‘Solidarity Families’. But the thing about host families is that they often run out of supplies and it becomes difficult for them to continue supporting others.
Here in North Kivu we are affected by a lot of internal and external problems and risk to remain in this chronic crisis where people continue to live in poverty and fear forever. So many armed groups, so many people fighting over resources. CARE has created crisis management committees that include local authorities, civil society, community leaders, religious leaders. We trained them on passive conflict management, their roles as members of their community, their responsibilities. We want to support them to act independently and give them the tools to support themselves, not just to be depended on aid. We have given people a framework for managing crises, for managing displacement and for communities to adapt better to such situations. I often observe that the communities help themselves before humanitarians like us even reach the places.
At the same time, we need to ensure that we as humanitarians do no harm to people and communities. We need to ensure to include those who are the most affected, and often that is women and children. When we help displaced people we also need to ensure to include host families, they need our assistance too. This way we can help to avoid conflict and to support the sense of natural solidarity. Aid should not weaken this solidarity – it should strengthen it!
For me, it’s natural to be a humanitarian. I see myself as owning this sense of African Solidarity too. I learn every day about people’ lives and I aim to assist improving the aid we give. It makes me proud to help other people.”