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The Aid Workers - #HumanitarianDay

We know about the challenges for charities working within the UK, but what about those that are working abroad? This Humanitarian Day, we want to celebrate aid workers and highlight the challenging work of our small international charities who are working with some of the most vulnerable people in the world.


Although the sector as a whole has been hit hard by COVID-19, international charities and organisations have received some of the biggest blows. Few are eligible for the Government’s Coronavirus Community Support Fund, and many trusts and foundations have amended their criteria, and no longer include projects abroad.


What is certain however, is that this community of aid workers are still tirelessly working to try help transform the lives of their beneficiaries. We asked our members what the life of an aid worker is like at the moment, and here is what they had to say.


EdUkaid


Since 2003, EdUKaid has been helping the poorest children in Tanzania to get the education they so desperately need. Based in the remote Mtwara region of southern Tanzania, their work is in partnership with local communities to improve the quality of education so that children have the chance of a better life.


1. What does it mean to be an aid worker, working during the COVID-19 crisis?


As an aid worker I am used to having to respond to different challenges and working for a small charity means that I can adapt more easily than perhaps those working for large NGOs. This meant that my charity, EdUKaid, was able to react quickly to COVID-19 in Tanzania during the outbreak and respond appropriately as the situation changed. The biggest challenge has been the impact on our income at the time when our beneficiaries need us more than ever.


2. As an aid worker, what kind of world are you living in right now?


A world full of hope and opportunity. Our beneficiaries show us every day that, with a little help, you can still achieve so much even in most difficult circumstances.


3. What does the future look like for those you work with?


For the communities in which we work, life and death is an everyday occurrence and they are more fearful of malaria or hunger than COVID-19. These people live hand to mouth, day to day, so future is a difficult concept to consider. As an aid worker I am fearful that much of the incredible progress achieved by the small NGOs will be lost as funding disappears and charities risk closure and fearful that this ‘world full of hope and opportunity’ will disappear for the poorest communities.


https://www.edukaid.com/


RARE


In 2008, Rare Tea Company began working with Satemwa Tea Estate in Malawi, Africa. Founder Henrietta Lovell visited Satemwa and saw the possibility of creating social change by re-investing a percentage of the revenue from Rare Tea sales into the young people connected to the Estate. Rare Charity’s focus is to create educational opportunities within tea producing communities.


1. What does it mean to be an aid worker, working during the COVID-19 crisis?


It's subjective, but I would say that it means that you continue your commitment to support the most vulnerable and deliver programmes as safely as possible.


2. As an aid worker, what kind of world are you living in right now?

The same world as we are all living in - none of us are safe until all of us are safe. The world has got more dangerous now, but COVID is one of the many challenges Malawians face.


3. What does the future look like for those you work with?


We stay hopeful. It depends on the spread of COVID in Malawi.


https://www.rarecharity.com/


S.A.L.V.E


S.A.L.V.E. International (Support And Love Via Education) works in a variety ways to reduce the number of children having to live on the streets of Uganda. They have many programmes such as street outreach, halfway homes, drug rehabilitation programmes and many more, all of which have education at the heart of them.


1. What does it mean to be an aid worker, working during the COVID-19 crisis?


Normal challenges are amplified and new ones are appearing daily. How can the children we work with who live on the streets adhere to a curfew, when they simply have nowhere to go? We have been working hard to find solutions in a rapidly changing environment. It also means relying upon the selflessness of our staff who are willing to risk their own health and that of their families by continuing to work in a people-facing role during the Covid crisis.


2. As an aid worker, what kind of world are you living in right now?


A strange one, but one that is not devoid of hope: we see the smiles of the people we help and we know that we will make it through this. Despite the darkness, we have been overwhelmed by the generosity and kindness of others. The global community has come together and helped empower us to help the people who need us most.


3. What does the future look like for those you work with?


We are still working towards a mission to end homelessness, but with poverty increasing, education being inaccessible and the risk of more children turning to the streets for food or shelter, we are realistic that there may be difficult times ahead. We expect to see an increase in child homelessness and all of the problems that go with this including sexual abuse, violence, trafficking and addiction


https://www.salveinternational.org/


Azuko


AzuKo is a small architecture charity, working in UK and Bangladesh to improve living conditions for people in poverty. Typically they work with communities longterm, designing improvements to housing, ensuring access to safe water and sanitation.


1. What dos it mean to be an aid worker during COVID-19


Our frontline staff have been working tirelessly to deliver vital hygiene supplies to those without access to the basics – soap, sanitiser, disinfectant, face masks and other PPE. We have reached over 2,400 families and are expanding our efforts across the district of Dinajpur as the crisis continues. Community members are also volunteering to ensure we reach the most vulnerable. As the UK begins to return to a ‘new normal’ the situation in many parts of South Asia is worsening. Working on the frontline is physically and emotionally draining. You need to be empathic, strong-minded, honest and driven, and our team is showing this in abundance.

2. What does the future look like for those you work with?


The knock-on effects of COVID-19 in Bangladesh are extremely challenging, particularly for those living in poverty. We are already seeing severe food shortages, increases in domestic violence and child abuse, as well as impacts to mental health. Much of the country is still rebuilding after super-cyclone Amphan which hit in May, and many now face severe flooding as monsoon rains continue without pause. International solidarity is key to ensure no one is left behind during this crisis.


https://azuko.org/


ATE



ATE, through their three programmes: SNAP (Special Needs Awareness Programme) BizATE (Small Business Development Programme) and EducATE (access to education prgramme) work to reduce poverty in Lawra, rural Ghana, where the majority rely on subsistence farming and food is scarce for months at a time.


1. What does it mean to be an aid worker, working during the COVID-19 crisis?

As the communities we work in become increasingly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are required to work flexibly, dynamically, and with the needs of our beneficiaries at the heart of every single decision we make. To be an aid worker in this crisis means putting down the plans that we had, pause the strategy that was agreed, stop in our tracks and put first and foremost the immediate needs of those we serve. The impact of COVID-19 has affected all nations, all races of all socio and economic contexts although much harder and concentrated for people on the frontline. In the midst of fear and panic, humanitarian aid is even more necessary than before. ‘Aid workers’ are truly vital during this crisis, they are undervalued, often forgotten, placed in high risk roles.


2. As an aid worker, what kind of world are you living in right now?


A fearful and difficult one. One that seems hopeless for those in poverty, girls and women around the world, street children, refugees. But also, a hopeful one, seeing the kindness, the collaboration, community. This pandemic has pulled organisations, causes, groups and people together. The COVID-19 crisis has shaken the way we live, the way we work and made many of us reassess our priorities. At the organisational level it has shone a light on our staff, humanitarians on the frontline.


3. What does the future look like for those you work with?


It is getting harder and harder. Climate changes, poor healthcare and educational infrastructures placing more pressure on local people, farmers, petty traders, disabled children and their families. It's harder to gain and sustain income, harder to grow crops, harder to receive necessary and proper healthcare.

Our continuous constructive support to the poor especially now will be a sustenance to them and their families now and in the future. It’s also important not to let the increased social capital which has been build during the crises disappear. The community spirit, the wave of volunteering and the collaborative relationships being built need to be nurtured and not allowed to fade away.



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