What it means to be humanitarian

Weekender

By KAIRI KURUKURU
– World Vision Communications
International Humanitarian Day (IHD) fell on August 19.
World Vision, which has been involved with humanitarian work in the country, is glad to share views from one of its senior workers who has spanned 10 years with the international non-governmental organisation (NGO).
Meet Stella Rumbam, World Vision operations manager.
Stella has served the people of Papua New Guinea through the NGO as a humanitarian in various positions and continues to do so, recently being the national response manager to the Highlands earthquake response.
Below are responses to questions regarding her job as an aid worker.
What does being a humanitarian mean to you? Being a humanitarian means to work with vulnerable children, women, mothers and the general community in contributing to improve their lives, alleviate suffering and poverty.
Why did she become a humanitarian? I felt that I could help in my capacity to assist communities and those that are in need within the community. I’m passionate about helping those that are in need.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your job? The most challenging aspect of my job is having timely access to areas where people need relief assistance. Communicating with the team on the ground for information to plan accordingly is also another task because there are areas where mobile communication is lacking hence making it very difficult at times.
One thing you wish people understood about your job? One thing I want people to understand about my job is that in situations of emergency or disaster, you are under so much stress to ensure that you’re helping those that need assistance. There is the initial phase and then the recovery phase of a disaster but the most stressful thing is the response or the initial stages because we want to ensure that we get humanitarian aid in. We want information. Assessments need to be made for proper decision making and so forth, so working over- time to make sure that the aid gets to those who are in need.
What’s the one thing you would like to see change in communities you’ve been in? There must be more cooperation between the leaders and the people in communities so relief items, services and assistance can be shared equally to all members of the community. It is important to get the community to understand its needs and then see how they can work together to effectively support relief efforts. Often there is infighting amongst survivors, hence hindering relief assistance – some may not receive assistance because of a lack of coordination and cooperation between themselves. I would like to see this stop as it significantly affects those who need timely relief assistance.
What motivates you to continue your work despite the challenges? What motivates me is the smile on the faces of children and the communities, the hope they have regardless of the situation faced by their community. A simple thank you from a beneficiary motivates me. For instance, when you give out water purification tablets and show them how to use it and when they have access to clean water – that is satisfying for me. Most importantly, I’m motivated to do my job more and reach more people because of the hope they gain from what we do as aid workers.
In February 2018 at 3am local time, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake shook the Highlands of Papua New Guinea displacing an estimated 270,000 people.
The initial quake was followed by several aftershocks in five districts of four Highlands provinces including parts of Western and Gulf.
Displaced and injured survivors were in need of immediate relief assistance; two of the most affected provinces were Hela and Southern Highlands (SHP) as they were right next to the central point of the earthquake.
Its aftermath rendered difficulty in transportation, major airstrips in SHP and Hela extended the struggle of delivering aid assistance.
Both local and international NGOs, stakeholders and Governments within the Asia- Pacific region responded to the plight of the survivors.
World Vision and its partners responded to three target areas in SHP which were Bosavi station, Muluma station and Fogomaiyu all of which are located within the Bosavi LLG. World Vision focused on addressing the immediate water, and sanitation and hygiene (Wash) needs faced by survivors.
The Evangelical Church of PNG (ECPNG) played an important role in assisting World Vision realise its relief assistance goals as it had an existing network of schools, health clinics and churches in the locality.
The partnership followed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between ECPNG and World Vision on April 27, 2018. The aim of the MoU was to strengthen the working relationship between the church and the NGO to continue the relief assistance and recovery partnership. Prior to the signing of the MoU nine subsidised flights provided by the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) proved extremely valuable in transporting much needed relief Items to the survivors.
The Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) also supported World Vision to transport non-food items (NFIs) in the initial stages of the earthquake. SIL assisted in the first delivery of 125 NFIs to six villages in the Bosavi area.
The NFIs distributed to survivors comprised of water containers, aqua tabs or water purification tablets, fleece blankets, mosquito nets and hygiene kits.
Twenty-seven communities in the Bosavi LLG received relief assistance from World Vision comprising of six communities in Bosavi, 16 in Muluma and another five in Fogomaiyu; beneficiaries from these relief efforts are estimated at 3000.
Apart from the distribution of NFIs and household kits, World Vision aid workers also conducted awareness on hygiene, sanitation and proper management of water sources as well as giving basic tips on the correct ways of using water purification tablets. Similar awareness exercises were conducted in all distribution points.
World Vision is currently doing assessments in earthquake-affected areas for the recovery and rehabilitation phase of the response.
With support from the New Zealand Government, World Vision will be delivering water, sanitation and hygiene support through the repair or construction of sanitation and water supply facilities, as well as education activities around hygiene promotion.

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