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news | August 19, 2016 | Pakistan | Emergency

'Being an aid worker is an opportunity to make a difference': Testimonies from ACTED staff in Pakistan

On the occasion of World Humanitarian Day, celebrated on August 19 every year, ACTED shares with you testimonies of field staff from around the world to honor the work of all the women and men who mobilize to support the most vulnerable populations in crisis-affected areas. Read the testimonies of Qaisar, Muhammad, Qamar and Kamran who work at ACTED Pakistan.

Assessment in Mirpur Khas, Pakistan, December 2011. (©Nicoletta Ianniello) 

Muhammad, Deputy Area Coordinator and Shelter Expert in Sindh, has been working in the humanitarian field since 2008.

“My name is Muhammad and I am the Deputy Area Coordinator and Shelter Expert in Sindh. I have been working as an aid worker for the last eight years. In 2008, I was working as a site engineer on a motorway project in Baluchistan when heavy monsoon rains triggered flash floods in the area. Water inundated most of the area, roofs collapsed and shelters in nearby villages were destroyed by the deluge. Our project site was affected too; the construction stopped and we got stuck in a remote field camp for weeks. Some colleagues and I went to a village not far from where we were located and we tried to help villagers whose personal belongings were buried under the rubble of the collapsed shelters. We spent the whole day with them and helped them in building temporary shelters. While my colleagues and I were assisting these people in need, I started feeling a vibrant energy within myself. It was a turning point in my career and I decided to start working in the humanitarian sector. As a shelter expert, one of my greatest achievements has been the construction of more than 30,000 shelters for disaster-affected people. These people were living in very harsh weather conditions and were not able to construct a roof over their heads due poverty and other constraints. But each day is rewarding for an aid worker. The smile on the face of an elderly person when they receive food items for their family, or the moment when someone from the community acknowledges your services; these brief moments encourage me to continue my efforts. One of my most rewarding moments last year happened when I visited a group of newly-constructed permanent shelters in a remote village in Pakistan. After visiting some of the houses, a community member told me that one of the shelter beneficiaries was a 70-year-old lady who wanted to meet me. She had never lived in a permanent shelter before that. When I went to see her, she was sitting in front of the shelter and raised her hands in prayer, saying "God will reward you."

Qaisar is an Appraisal, Monitoring and Evaluation (AME) monitor in ACTED Pakistan. He’s been working in the humanitarian field since 2009. Here’s his story:

“When working in the sector issues such as borders, beliefs, color are of little relevance and the most important point is to serve human kind. I believe that working for the world’s least privileged is a very noble cause and this was one of the main reasons I decided to work in this sector. It continues to be an important source of motivation for me as we never work for one nationality, for a culture, a specific political part or a religious belief. I am convinced that this interest in humanity is a little bit like the religion of the aid worker: it ties us all together. During my seven years of experience with ACTED, there were numerous occasions while assisting extremely vulnerable communities affected by conflict and natural disasters, when I’ve seen tearful expressions transformed into smiling faces with hope. When thinking of these moments, I feel blessed and I know that I have chosen the right job, a job that corresponds to my thoughts, ideas and desires while also bringing me satisfaction and happiness.”

A lady sitting in front of her rehabilitated, flood resistant and lime-stabilized shelter in Sindh. (ACTED Pakistan, 2015)

Kamran is a project manager at ACTED Pakistan. Here what he has to say:

“My name is Kamran and I am a project manager in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. For me, working as an aid worker is an opportunity to make a difference. I don’t see any other career as being more interesting, challenging, exciting, and rewarding. Being in this sector gives me the feeling that I am contributing to making the world a better place. If my contribution as an aid worker can help and support families in need, then I consider myself lucky. My favorite thing about working for ACTED is how everyone cares so much about assisting the people most in need of our help. We are all very careful of how we identify and select beneficiaries and how we select specific communities. By designing interventions that are in line with the needs of these people, we do our best to make their lives better. When you contribute as an aid worker in humanitarian assistance projects, you feel so proud and lucky that you are chosen for this work. ACTED strives to work with people who are the most deprived, vulnerable and marginalized. Despite many challenges, ACTED chooses to work in areas where other actors find it too difficult to work in. It is often in these challenging areas where the most vulnerable populations are found, making every interaction and every piece of assistance extremely rewarding. It is also challenging to work in disaster-affected areas in term of access, cultural barriers and security issues. But for aid workers these are the challenges that we should be mentally prepared for. I always enjoy working in challenging environments because at the end it’s the result of your work which gives you inner satisfaction.”

Qamar, Program Coordinator-Nutrition in Sindh, has been in the humanitarian field for nearly six years now. Here’s what he has to say:

“My name is Qamar and I am a nutrition program coordinator in Sindh. I have been working in the humanitarian sector for nearly six years. I consider myself very lucky to be able to make a living doing work in line with my values while serving humanity. I find my work interesting, challenging, exhilarating and rewarding as I am contributing to the betterment of the world. Seeing the relief we provide to communities in need and witnessing the impact it has on the lives of vulnerable communities are my favorite thing about working with ACTED. Providing assistance to the most helpless communities and maintaining people's dignity is very important. We work with communities in rough areas in Pakistan to provide the best possible humanitarian aid to the ones most in need. During my regular field visits I very often have the opportunity to be in direct contact with communities we’re supporting. This provides me with continuous learning and allows me to see firsthand the results and impact of the hard work everyone at ACTED is doing. However, as a humanitarian worker I find it challenging to provide immediate humanitarian assistance in emergency contexts, all the while also considering the long term needs of affected communities.”