The role of an aid worker

Timothy Cohen from CAFOD’s emergency response team reflect back on his visit to Nepal. He talks about the role of an aid worker.

If someone tells you they’re an ‘aid worker’, how would you picture them? You probably think of someone who’s any (or all) of the following:

  • Photogenic (which rules me out!)
  • EmotiveFunded by EU
  • Holding a clipboard in a t-shirt with a cool logo

That’s certainly how we (the aid sector) have sold ourselves to the public for the past 20 years. It’s good for our image and our branding. And it’s not untrue either; but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

But if you’ve paid close attention, maybe you’ve noticed this narrative changing slightly over the past few years? Maybe you’ve noticed that members of the local communities, and the organisations that they work for, are in the spotlight more and more?

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Gaza crisis: six months on

Tuw Feq El Qarraa: "The support has helped me to go back to how it was before the war."
Tuw Feq El Qarraa: “The support has helped me to go back to how it was before the war.”

Six months since the beginning of the 2014 conflict in Gaza, Claire Grant from CAFOD’s Humanitarian team reflects on the difference made by donations from Catholics in England and Wales.

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Everyone in Gaza has a story. A story of longstanding hardship, of uncertainty, of loss and of hard-earned survival.

The 50 days of conflict last summer – which gave rise to Israeli bombardments, Palestinian rocket attacks and ground fighting – took their toll, killing more than 2,200 people, destroying over 20,000 homes and countless livelihoods. More than 2,000 of these people were Palestinian civilians, including 519 children.

In December, the media pictures of the destruction became real to me as I travelled to Gaza to meet families and communities supported by CAFOD, who each had their own personal stories to tell.

Building back

The Gaza Strip is merely 25 miles in length and seven miles wide. A short drive is therefore all that it takes to get an accurate picture of the devastation that shook the region to its core this summer.

My first meeting was with a young father, Mohammed Abu Anzah, who had been forced to flee his land with his family when his house was destroyed during aerial bombardments. He has now returned to his land, and I found him hard at work with a team of local labourers who had been funded by CAFOD to rehabilitate the area.

Standing beside his two little daughters, who were playing amongst the debris and building material, Mohammed told me how grateful he was that he can now plant olive trees, beans and chickpeas, which he will sell at the market. He is also building back his house. Continue reading “Gaza crisis: six months on”