“I have always dreamed of making a difference in people’s lives.” Even if Anteneh doesn't get to see his family that often, he wouldn't change his job👨🏿💼Published: Aug 18, 2022 Reading time: 3 minutes
Ethiopia has significant humanitarian needs due to several factors—armed conflicts, water shortages, drought and nutrition insecurity which result in instability, tensions, and internal displacement of millions of people. In such a situation, the role of the humanitarian worker is essential. To celebrate World Humanitarian Day, let’s get to know the work of one of our colleagues.
Anteneh Yenu finished his studies at Hawassa University in the field of Construction Management. He worked as a site engineer in a private company, but he wanted to do something with a greater impact on his community. Anteneh joined People in Need four years ago, and despite the difficulties of humanitarian work, he is still satisfied with his decision to leave the private sector.
Being flexible and adaptable are key qualities for succeeding in aid work because daily work can be challenging. In Ethiopia, humanitarian workers often spend several hours a day driving on dusty, bumpy roads to visit project sites and beneficiaries or local representatives. Anteneh admits that his job is challenging because he cannot always be with his wife and two-year-old son. “I often live for long periods of time in remote areas. Implementing aid projects is difficult, and things are unpredictable. Our work can often be delayed, disrupted, or destroyed by instabilities and security challenges that could erupt at any time.”
Anteneh is currently a programme manager; he is in charge of emergency projects in more than five different zones and special districts in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region (SNNPR) and the Oromia region. His projects focus on supporting multisectoral humanitarian aid services for the most vulnerable internally displaced people (IDPs) and returnees in southwest Ethiopia. Activities realised by the project include the provision of shelters, improving access to safe water and building sanitation facilities, or providing cash transfers to the vulnerable. “Many times, people are very happy with our work in the field. I will never forget a day we spent in the Borena zone of the Oromia region. The happiness we saw on the faces of our beneficiaries when we were providing cash distribution and necessities was satisfying. Our beneficiaries were very happy after a long time of suffering.”
Anteneh admits that it is also a reason for him to keep working as a humanitarian aid worker. Groups on humanitarian missions are often a mixture of ex-pat staff from many countries and locals. He appreciates getting to know unique and talented people from different countries and cultures and working closely with a team of people with different views and experiences.
Asked if his work as an aid worker changed him, he answers: “Definitely, it changed me a lot. The way I see things, my understanding about my community, and my job itself has continuously been changing.” Anteneh always wants to work on the frontline, especially when there is a disaster or challenge to be overcome. He has occasionally worked in places with security problems and instability. In these situations, workers should be more than well prepared and need to know what to do if circumstances change.
“I believe that when we have a positive attitude towards humanity, the strong potential within us will never weaken or diminish. I am always happy and motivated when I see a smile after people get a basic necessity that we as People in Need provide to them. I have always dreamed of making a difference in people's lives.” Despite the challenges, Anteneh believes it is a privilege to get to know a community and help them often during difficult times.