August 21, 2016 12:00

Being a Humanitarian Worker Is the Most Satisfying Job

Abraham Bongassie Wanta, Programme Director, Concern Worldwide, Ethiopia. Photo: Jennifer Nolan.

World Humanitarian Day story by Abraham Bongassie Wanta, Programme Director, Concern in Ethiopia

My main responsibility is leading the long-term development department, active in most under-served areas of the country and most marginalised extreme poor segments of the communities, particularly children and mothers, landless youth, women-headed families, and elderly with many dependants.

Through integrated, multi-sectoral programmes that respond to all dimensions of poverty, and using an approach that promotes full participation of the target communities and households, we fight poverty day in, day out.

Through these concerted efforts we have narrowed hunger gaps, addressed malnutrition through increasing diet diversity, improved incomes, and empowered women and men to voice their issues and take responsibility for their lives. Our current development programmes reach over one million people in four regions of the country.

Typical working day

Every day I deal with issues to do with the people we serve, the staff or partner organisations who serve them, the resources we mobilise to reach our target groups, the policy environment we work in, or the donors that support our efforts. Even though I often work extra hours, helping people in need makes it worth it.

Becoming a humanitarian worker

I come from a remote part of Ethiopia. My parents were poor, illiterate farmers who died in the misery of poverty which I will never forget. My own experience has made me determined to fight poverty mercilessly.

As a humanitarian worker I work directly with people in need which is very rewarding. It is the most satisfying job one could ever have as it enables one to see changes in people’s life, and witness lives being saved and opportunities for a better future being created on a daily basis.

Brightest work-related memory

One day a young chair of a successful women’s group told me a story that has stayed with me to this day. Before joining the group, all the resources had been controlled by her husband. After joining, she had people to talk to and learn from, she gained access to money and started talking to her husband as a full person.

Her husband started calling her by her name; she was no longer “you lady” and a tool in his hand to be used as he pleased but a respected wife and woman. I still remember her crying while sharing her story but her tears seemed to me like springs of hope and empowerment.

The scariest part of the job

Two things scare me: seeing people suffer but failing to respond to their needs as a humanitarian worker for whatever reason, and failing to hold myself and others accountable for not serving all those who need our help with anonymity and with dignity.

This story is part of Alliance2015 World Humanitarian Day campaign, featuring stories of humanitarians working with our members. For more information about the campaign and other stories, please click here.