In a disas­ter, it’s easy to for­get that the ef­fec­tive­ness of the emer­gency re­sponse re­lies heav­ily on the sup­port of peo­ple like Mar­i­anne work­ing in the back­ground. One el­e­ment that is cru­cial to Ox­fam’s work is its Sup­ply Cen­tre, which holds around £1.6

Be­hind The Scenes

The People's Friend Special - - REAL LIFE -

wanted to know more about that, so I ap­plied for a job in Chad. I was re­cruited through Ox­fam In­ter­mòn, who were there with Ox­fam GB. First I worked in the east for more than a year and then I moved to Ox­fam GB. I was sta­tioned in the cap­i­tal N’Dja­mena and then in other ar­eas. Af­ter that I be­came a mem­ber of the hu­man­i­tar­ian pool for Ox­fam GB.

“This job means that when­ever there is a need for a hu­man­i­tar­ian pro­gramme sup­port – if there is a nat­u­ral disas­ter or a man-made disas­ter – they would phone up and say, ‘Look, can you go down there for three months or six months?’ and I go. So since 2012 I have been in the emer­gency re­sponse team.

"My first de­ploy­ment was to Ye­men. Se­cu­rity mea­sures were high there, but I am never afraid. I don’t do silly things: I re­spect the rules and I sense what is sur­round­ing me.

“Af­ter Ye­men I went to Jor­dan with Ox­fam to work in the refugee camps for the Syr­ian refugees. I am a hu­man re­sources pro­fes­sional so I am in a sup­port sec­tion. Some­times I wish I was in the pro­gramme, be­cause I could work di­rectly with the ben­e­fi­cia­ries, but you re­ally need to be a tech­ni­cal ex­pert to be able to do that.

“The sup­port sec­tions are the oil that makes the ma­chine run smoothly; the or­gan­i­sa­tion can­not de­liver its pro­gramme with­out sup­port sec­tions like HR, Lo­gis­tics and Fi­nance, so it is very im­por­tant, but it is in­di­rect.”

Mar­i­anne re­flected on her life since she left her job in the Nether­lands and agreed that her views on life have changed.

“One thing that I have re­alised is that all hu­mans are the same, so you just have to help each other. If a mother loses her child the pain is the same wher­ever it is in the world. And an­other thing I have come to ap­pre­ci­ate is all th­ese dif­fer­ent cul­tures. When I go to a coun­try I work with the na­tional peo­ple and I can learn so much from them – the way they face prob­lems in life and the way they live and work to­gether.

“There are also many col­leagues from other coun­tries and it is such a di­verse multi-cul­tural, multi­na­tional group of peo­ple all work­ing to­gether with the same mis­sion – to help other peo­ple so that they can have a min­i­mum of a dig­ni­fied hu­man life.”

Ul­ti­mately, she said, “I wish more peo­ple would re­alise that it is en­rich­ing, re­ally en­rich­ing, if you are open to other cul­tures, other ways of liv­ing and look­ing at things. It makes life more full, re­ally.”

To find out about leav­ing a gift in your will to Ox­fam, go to www.ox­fam.org.uk/legacy.

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