It is World Humanitarian Day (19 August 2019), that one day in the year when we reflect on our engagement in the global humanitarian response. As this year focuses on honouring the Women Humanitarians, we take time to appreciate those in our own organisation who have made the work we do worthwhile. Without the committed women that we serve with, more than half of our efforts to respond to humanitarian crises in different places of the world would not be possible. Not only do they bring in the critical aspect of cultural relevance and appropriateness, but they also bring critical skills that have impacted communities.
We are unable to mention each one of them by name in this release, but these few that are mentioned are intended to represent the 100+ women across our program countries. The sacrifices made amidst the challenging environments for these women are just amazing!
Staff management is one of the key areas in ensuring successful humanitarian interventions, and we are glad that Ms Khadmallah keeps the morale among our staff in one of the most challenging operations in South Sudan.
Community Sensitisation/Mobilisation in our operations need to be culturally appropriate, and our Women Humanitarians are in the fore front in working with female populations. Here, it is a session on sensitizing women in Diffa on the importance of maintaining water quality from the tap to the cup.
Very thankful and honoured to have women like Salma (top picture) and Latifa (bottom picture) who are making a big difference in the humanitarian response in Yemen.
Ms Violet Avako is one of our officers in Uganda’s Rhino Camp where our response focuses on the South Sudanese refugee situation. She is appreciated among the women as they feel comfortable to relate and share their challenges amidst the very challenging conditions of being a refugee.
In some of the places we operate, our teams ride many miles as they work with communities. Ms Emily Ayaa is engaged in Uganda’s Kyangwali Refugee Settlement where we are responding to the DRC refugee situation. She rides her motorcycle through the “bushes” where she engages with new refugees working on settling on their allocated land.
These are but just a few examples of the amazing Women Humanitarians we have in our organisation, and on this day we express how truly grateful and honoured we are that this wonderful family of committed workers strives to alleviate suffering and promote human dignity with so much love!
Happy World Humanitarian Day!
/Milward Mwamvani – Humanitarian Coordinator
For refugees and IDPs in Diffa, Niger, availability of sustainable clean water is key to survival. With support from the European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO) we can construct sustainable infrastructure.
The project titel is “Improved access to safe drinking water for displaced and host populations in the Diffa region, Niger” Project period August 2017 – December 2019. Funded by ECHO.
/Milward Mwamvani, Humanitarian Coordinator
’My strategy is to respond to hate with more love, to show that evil will never prevail. My way of giving love is treating the sick and offering them hope.’ (Nobel Peace Prize winner 2018 – Doctor Denis Mukwege)
Denis Mukwege was washing his hands after surgery when he found out he had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize 2018. Stepping out of the operating room, he was greeted by cheers and applause from the patients and colleagues. Dr. Mukwege has been fighting sexual violence; long before the MeToo movement made it a global issue. He has operated on women who were subjected to brutal assaults without ever succumbing to the rage the evil. Instead, he has used his platform to raise awareness about the situation of these women, and as a Nobel Peace Prize winner, he is emphasising that this award also belongs to the women of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Many people are now commenting on the significance of Dr Mukwege’s work, but I think Justine Sirie, a cleaner at Panzi Hospital, said it best: ’Following a rape, Dr Mukwege operated on me seven times. Once I healed physically, Dr Mukwege offered me a job at the hospital, and thanks to that I can support my family. I can afford to pay school fees, and I’ve even bought a small plot of land to grow crops. Words can’t express how much Dr Mukwege has done for women like me. He gives us hope, even in times so hard we feel like our hearts will just give up. He will operate on anyone, no matter their income, ethnic group or religion.’
A few years ago, Denis Mukwege was the target of an assassination attempt, during which his daughters were taken hostage and his close friend and security guard was killed. Dr Mukwege survived and however forced to live in exile. Congolese women started collecting money to pay for his flight back to Congo. Most of them were poor women, selling fruit and vegetables by the side of the road, who didn’t have many pennies to spare. But they knew that when enough people work together, there is no limit to what you can achieve.
Our merging partner Läkarmissionen is the single largest Swedish aid donor to Panzi Hospital and we are proud to be a part it. At Panzi Hospital, besides women, the lives of many severely malnourished children are saved in the special ward supported by Läkarmissionen. The hospital is also equipped to save the lives of premature babies in the neonatal ward that Läkarmissionen has helped fund. The families then receive help to improve their access to food. Without this help, there is a significant risk that the child will need emergency care again.
Let’s hear from Mukwege’s colleagues
Dr Buhendwa, anesthesiologist and long-time colleague:
‘While Dr Mukwege could easily choose to live in Europe, where he and his family would be safe, he has chosen to stay and live here, near his patients and the people he fights to protect with every fibre of his being.’
Sylvie Mwambali, MD and Head of Family Planning at the hospital:
’Dr Mukwege isn’t just a skilled gynaecologist. He is also a humanitarian, fighting for justice on behalf of his patients. Treating a woman who has been raped isn’t like treating a person with malaria. Dr Mukwege has to work under the protection of bodyguards and is a survivor of an attempted assassination. We must stop these rapes now!’
Claes Johan Alexandersson, Läkarmissionen:
The UN characterises the situation in the DR Congo as one of the worst in the world. Around 120 armed groups are currently fighting the Congolese army or each other. Families have been forced to leave their homes to escape the violence. The maternal mortality rate is high, and many children are malnourished. Panzi Hospital, a source of hope, is doing crucial work and needs our help.
While the world gets “more organised”, with various institutions in place and advocating in various ways to promote living in harmony, the lives of humanitarian workers and those that they seek to serve seem to be increasingly endangered. In some of the places where IAS and other humanitarian agencies serve, it is almost a norm that workers are harassed in different ways on a daily basis.
IAS joins the world humanitarian community on this year’s World Humanitarian Day to remind the world that as we serve in the difficult areas and seek to alleviate suffering, some of which is man-made, as well as that caused by natural effects, we would like to serve without fearing for our own lives. It becomes sad when the resources that are intended to serve the suffering are either targeted and destroyed, or a significant amount has to be used just to ensure that the people safe. In some of the world’s environments where we fear for the lives of workers each day it is increasingly becoming expensive to just operate to deliver aid. We do not think this should be so!
The communities we serve are #NotaTarget (Photo: International Aid Services)
Our Teams are #NotaTarget (Photo: International Aid Services)
Despite these challenges, we continue to be thankful for our teams that have served with endurance is some of the hard-to-reach areas despite the challenges. When teams have been ambushed on the road and robbed, or attacked in the offices or their residence quarters, we have not given up and left the people that are facing unspeakable suffering.
On this day we join with others to declare that we are #NotaTarget as we serve! The communities that we serve are #NotaTarget! Our equipment or service vehicles are #NotaTarget! We join others to call for a cessation of attacks on humanitarian workers and civilians in whatever form.
// Milward Mwamvani (Humanitarian Coordinator)