Supporting the Syrian refugee crisis

"The hardest part is to see how many children and elderly people are living as refugees in Za'atari camp." - Asmahan Alawaisheh, Site Engineer, Amman, Jordan (Za’atari Camp for Syrian Refugees)

1. What sort of competing priorities do you have to juggle in your daily job?

In addition to my regular daily tasks, reports and field visits, things always come up that were not part of the original plan, but require my immediate attention.  Working in Za'atari camp requires me to always be prepared to take on tasks that are ad-hoc but urgent, while also taking into consideration security issues, and managing the work schedule and clients' expectations. 

2. What is the hardest part of your work? What is the most rewarding?

The hardest part is to see how many children and elderly people are living as refugees in Za'atari camp. In addition, given the security situation, daily travel to and from the camp can be exhausting; the unpredictable closure of the gates can impact the overall implementation of the project and add additional stress in trying to adhere to the deadlines.

The most rewarding part is seeing our projects come to fruition, being implemented with high-quality results and to everyone's satisfaction.  It makes me very happy when I see that my work improves life in the camp for the refugees and the staff who support them.

3. What first motivated you to work in humanitarian aid?

My first international position was in Sudan where people were in desperate need of basic necessities, especially in remote conflict-affected areas and in the internally displaced person (IDP) camps. That experience made me more determined to continue helping those in need.

4. What is the most surprising/unexpected thing you have come across during a field visit?

The most surprising thing is to witness the resilience of the refugees and the humanitarian workers working in the camp on a daily basis.  While the living and working conditions are not ideal, everyone is trying to adapt to the situation, and make their environment better and more responsive to their needs. 

5. What do you think humanitarian workers and organizations need to do better to further improve the lives of people in need?

I think they need to work better together, coordinate and distribute roles and combine resources to make the work more effective and responsive to the needs of beneficiaries.