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Leaving the office for Niger

My day to day job is very office based, sitting in front of a computer, sending emails, making phone calls, coordinating the team, persuading people, fixing things and coming up with new ideas to talk about age old issues.

Sometimes it’s easy to feel very distanced from the families we’re working to support, based the other side of the world, in places like Zimbabwe and Afghanistan.

Last year a chance came up to get much closer to the ‘action’.

I got onto Save the Children’s Emergency Operations Programme – a course designed by our Emergency team with the aim of building up a ‘standby team’ of people who can at a moments notice get on a plane and be part of the response to any disaster that strikes.

After nine months of virtual seminars on everything from humanitarian principles to how to set up a food distribution topped and tailed by three weeks of responding to a fictional disaster in the middle of Wales I graduated onto the global standby team.

The final part of my training would be as part of the response team to a real disaster.

But with a team to manage in London and a heavy workload, disaster responses came and went and I wasn’t able to take time out of the office to be a part of those responses.

Now, my opportunity has come. Niger is suffering from a drought worse than in a usual year. People’s food supplies have run out four months earlier than usual and although food is available to buy the price of food is too high for people to afford.

Speculation is that the food crisis this year could be worse than it was in 2005 if we don’t act now. In the shadow of the earthquake that struck Haiti in January our challenge is to make the world sit up and care about the situation facing families in Niger.

A week ago I was asked if I would join the Niger response team as the information and communications officer.

After some negotiation with my manager and a hectic week tying up work projects and making sure my husband was going to be ok for the two months I would be away I got on a plane to Niger.

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