My One Cent: Michelle Carter

“The basis underneath all my years with CARE has been a deep motivation to see things change.” 

November 22, 2017

My One Cent: Michelle Carter Michelle Carter is the deputy regional director for CARE in Southern Africa. In her 20 years with CARE, she’s seen a lot change within the organization, in the broader humanitarian development community and in the world itself. This is Michelle’s “My One Cent” story:

I’ve been with CARE for more than 20 years and the reason I started in this career sounds like a real cliché. I wanted to help people. At first, was also a bit of self-interest and curiosity about Africa, Asia and different cultures, but the basis underneath all my years with CARE has been a deep motivation to see things change.

My job is to make sure that our countries - Malawi, Madagascar, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania – are running well and providing the right support. Right now we’re working on pulling evidence from each country and pooling it with other organizations and figuring out how we can work together to influence African governments and donors, including the U.S. government. By collaborating, we get a broader sense of what’s working and what’s not to help people with food insecurity and malnutrition find sustainable solutions.

It’s funny…people think I’m out in the field all day on the job. I spend a lot of time behind the computer and on email. Certainly the most enriching part of my work is when I’m visiting project participants in any of those six countries. I love getting feedback directly from the women taking part in our projects and the people who implement them. These are the people who know best about what’s working and what isn’t.

There are a lot of bad stories out there and governments that aren’t working the way they should be. The state of the world can be very depressing, but what keeps me going are the project participants and success stories about women like Susan. Before she got involved with CARE projects, she had no money at all…literally, nothing. Now she’s growing corn, has her own money and enough to send her kids to school. That’s fantastic.

At the beginning, I was naïve and we all think, ‘we can make the world better.’ Then, you realize how complex it all is. After twenty years, I see progress but I’ve also seen things that haven’t worked out and we’ve learned how to move forward. Overall, I still get a deep level of satisfaction out of doing something that makes the world better. I don’t think it’s a cliché. I think it’s something that drives me. I love CARE. I love my life and I don’t need an alarm clock to wake up in the morning. I’m excited to do whatever I have to do to make a difference. This work fuels me.