Background

« Even if it is a tough job, we experience moments of great pride »

Charlotte Schneider

Testimony

Charlotte Schneider - Emergency Pool Coordinator


Charlotte Schneider is the Emergency Pool Coordinator. With her team, she intervenes during the most acute times of the crisis to deliver vital and urgent aid to vulnerable populations. She worked in Afghanistan, Haïti, on the Syrian crises and in Cameroon. The Muttur tragedy, which happened one month before she joined Action contre la Faim, reinforced her commitment.

I joined Action contre la Faim in 2006, just one month after the tragedy of Muttur. This event had a very strong impact on me, all the more so I was beginning to work as an aid worker. At ACF headquarters in Paris, the working atmosphere was really heavy; we were all shocked by the seriousness of the crime and the impunity that accompanied it. But also it reminded us of the basic reasons for which we got involved in humanitarian action: to provide assistance to the most vulnerable people, even if sometimes it encompasses hazards.

I am not able to explain my motivation regarding my humanitarian commitment. It may partly come from my family history: some family members were of German origin and they had to flee the Nazis sixty years ago. At that time, my grand-parents had to face what the migrants and refugees are now facing and they received assistance from solidarity organizations. Helping the most vulnerable is what deeply motivated my choice to join the humanitarian sector. At the same time, it makes me discover various cultures. It is so fascinating and such a rich learning experience when you can meet other ways of looking at the world, other ways to be a human being and to live in society.

For about ten years I discovered many different countries and cultures. In 2006, I left for Afghanistan as a Financial and Human Resources Coordinator, and then I became the Head of Mission. I stayed there for four years, of which I worked for two years for Action contre la Faim. In 2010, I joined again ACF to work in Haiti. I stayed there for two years as the Deputy Head of Mission, then the Head of Mission, and finally the Country Director.

I arrived and started working in Haiti when a major event took place: the cholera epidemic had just been reported, ten months after the January 12, 2010 earthquake. Haiti is a very religious country and this disease has suddenly disrupted the relation to the body and touch. At the beginning, patients did not accept their treatment as some of them thought that it was witchcraft. This type of situation is typical in the humanitarian approach: we can have lots of means and will at our disposal, but that is not enough. We have to take into account the cultural and sociological context in which people live to be able to provide full and appropriate humanitarian response.

In February 2013, I was assigned to my present position and I became the Emergency Pool Coordinator. Now I am managing a team of sixteen people who work in support to missions in the field that are affected by sudden shocks. Being an emergency team, it is a specific profession: the assignments usually last around four to six weeks during the most acute times of the crisis. In nearly four years, I worked on several major crises. For the Syrian crisis, the emergency team proceed to the opening of missions in Jordan and in Iraqi Kurdistan; those missions were later transferred to a local team. We intervened in the crisis of Central African refugees with the opening of the mission in Cameroon or even the crisis in South Sudan with support provided to the mission on Nutrition and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene programmes.

Even if it is a tough job, although we are faced with the dark side of human beings, with what he/she is able to do to his/her fellow human beings, we live moments of intense pride. Such as being able to set up a camp within a few days in a plain where the temperature reaches 40°C and starting delivering basic necessities to mothers and children who have walked to the distribution place for more than three weeks. I experienced difficult situations from both the physical and moral points of view, but all that I lived and saw led me to put things into perspective more easily. I now accept a part of fate and these difficult feelings are compensated by the relationships that have been created with the people in the field. The relationships with the people are very strong. In my opinion, it is the rich variety of these bonds, besides the vital support provided, which gives all the meaning to our presence as an NGO.

All the stories below:



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« My strongest memories are those relating to the people with whom I have worked »
Eric Besse

For almost a year now, Eric Besse has been working as Country Director in the Central African Republic for Action contre la Faim which he joined early 2013. As an aid worker his strongest memories were those of the people he was in contact with daily. National employees involved in their work despite their own difficulties as it was the case for the seventeen employees of Muttur.

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« Even if it is a tough job, we experience moments of great pride »
Charlotte Schneider

Charlotte Schneider is the Emergency Pool Coordinator. With her team, she intervenes during the most acute times of the crisis to deliver vital and urgent aid to vulnerable populations. She worked in Afghanistan, Haïti, on the Syrian crises and in Cameroon. The Muttur tragedy, one month before she joined Action contre la Faim, reinforced her commitment.

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« Our birth is a lottery »
Caroline Antoine


Caroline Antoine is a Health Advisor at Action contre la Faim. With a Master Degree in public health, specialized in the management of health programmes, and trained in applied epidemiology, she joined the NGO world in 2008. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Chad, she worked for several years in the field and she recalls her particular situation in 2006 on the anniversary of the Muttur massacre.

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« The emergency responses were those that make me feel that I was the most useful to people »
Marie Sardier

Marie Sardier joined Action contre la Faim ten years ago, shortly after the Muttur tragedy. After helping Togolese refugees in Ghana, she worked in Somalia, South Sudan, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mali and other countries. She is now a Food Security and Livelihoods Advisor at the Paris headquarters. She recalls her humanitarian experiences which taught her a lot about herself.

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10 years after Muttur's tragedy:
never forget, never give up.

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