Red Cross aid worker is on a mis­sion

Central Leader - - News -

A 28-year ca­reer with the New Zealand Red Cross has seen One­hunga hu­man­i­tar­ian aid worker Judy Owen un­der­take 17 mis­sions over 79 months in 15 coun­tries.

Judy has re­cently re­turned from her latest mis­sion, a 12-month de­ploy­ment to Su­dan, where she worked as a nurse.

Based in Zalingei, Judy worked in rural ar­eas of Dar­fur and camps for in­ter­nally dis­placed peo­ple pro­vid­ing ba­sic health care and im­ple­ment­ing im­mu­ni­sa­tion clin­ics.

Judy says in Zalingei the nor­mal pop­u­la­tion of 40,000 has swelled to more than 140,000 as peo­ple have fled their homes and taken refuge in camps in the re­gion.

Dur­ing her mis­sion Judy was work­ing with the In­ter­na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross – one of only a few hu­man­i­tar­ian or­gan­i­sa­tions work­ing in rural and iso­lated ar­eas of Dar­fur.

“It was a tough mis­sion but the staff and peo­ple were good. Se­cu­rity was the big­gest is­sue with the reg­u­lar threat of loot­ing and vi­o­lence,” she says.

Life for those in the camps is hard, says Judy. All have been forced from their homes and in­comes.

In the camps there are few em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, leav­ing those there re­liant on aid for health care and food.

“My heart goes out to peo­ple there who are liv­ing in it day to day. They want to go back to their vil­lages but it is not safe,” says Judy.

Dur­ing her ca­reer with New Zealand Red Cross Judy has worked as a nurse in coun­tries such as Ethiopia, So­ma­lia, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Uganda and In­done­sia.

Her first mis­sion was in 1980 when she was de­ployed to Thai­land for three months.

New Zealand Red Cross, as part of the In­ter­na­tional Red Cross Red Cres­cent Move­ment, sup­ports 24 hu­man­i­tar­ian aid work­ers around the world.

New Zealand Red Cross’ in­ter­na­tional aid worker pro­gramme is sup­ported by NZAID, the gov­ern­ment’s in­ter­na­tional aid agency.

Good deeds: New Zealand Red Cross aid worker Judy Owen, left, in Su­dan with fel­low aid worker Felicity Gapes.

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