World Humanitarian Day: Mohammad Speaks from Turkey
“Mohammad”*, 30, holds a leadership role in a CARE partner NGO working in Syria, but based in Turkey
When I was still living in Syria, I knew that my future would be in the humanitarian relief sector. At that time, I wasn’t forced to leave Syria, but I left my country with the motive of becoming an aid worker to help my people.
Humanitarian work is for any person who does not want to watch from the sidelines the disintegration of Syria. It is a job for people who want to help. I do not want to wake one day with feelings of guilt, when I ask myself what I did when Syria was in crisis. Our people need us. We must respond.
This is not a time for opening businesses. It is time for people to work with non-profits, aiding Syrians in their time of need – regardless of religious, ideological, or political beliefs.
The needs today are overwhelming, and the greatest challenge is our inability to meet all of them. As hard as we try, we cannot reach everyone. Needs are increasing as the crisis continues, now into its fifth year. The numbers of problems multiply, but the resources required to respond just aren’t there.
If issues with human and financial resources were not enough, daily we face security and logistics problems, too. We are constantly searching for transport trucks, warehouses for storage of aid, and safe routes that will permit humanitarian access. When we are not doing this, we are writing reports, supplying donors with supporting documentation, all requiring a great deal of time and effort.
Despite the chaos of war, humanitarians must remain responsible and accountable to donors and the people we are there to help. It’s not enough to help people, so we cover reams of paperwork to ensure we are doing it responsibly. Such responsibility ensures we implement projects that cater to the needs of the people, transparently and according to donor standards.
Humanitarian relief is a 24/7 job. Every day, every hour, we know that people are counting on us for our support. Despite our planning, the work remains chock full of surprises and emergencies. Not everyone appreciates the role of humanitarian workers, and at times our lives are in danger because we are trying to deliver aid to civilians. It is the positive feedback we receive from the people we are helping that make the risks worthwhile.
I am not a pessimistic person and I have always tried to see everything from a viewpoint of hope. But working day-in and day-out in the humanitarian relief sector, it’s impossible to escape unscathed. All Syrians have been negatively impacted by the general situation of the war in Syria. Despite our trials, my emotional state is good, and I have the Syrian people to thank for that. It’s to them, their gratitude, their hope and strength, that I can attribute my own positive emotions. Helping people in need has helped me remain hopeful. As long as there are people working for a better world, I believe one is possible.
The dangers are there, but despite this, I insist on helping my country. It’s worth it.
*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the individual.
About CARE’s work through partners in Syria:
CARE mainly focuses on the distribution of relief supplies such as food baskets, hygiene and baby kits, dignity kits for the elderly, and kitchen sets. During the harsh winter, our partners supported families with mattresses, blankets, floor covering, and children’s clothing. CARE’s partners have also set up health clinics in underserved areas, , increasing access to health care for Syrian communities affected by the conflict. Additionally, women receive reproductive health support. CARE is also supporting programs focusing on improving access to water through the renovation of water treatment plants and preventing the spread of diseases through hygiene promotion.
In addition to incredible humanitarian needs, in such a protracted conflict there is also an urgent need to rebuild livelihoods, encourage social cohesion and develop resilience to cope with longer term crisis. With our partners, CARE is developing resilience programs inside Syria, providing families with livelihoods support, microfinance and psychosocial programming.
In total, CARE has reached over 400,000 people in Syria so far.