Background

« Les interventions d’urgence m’ont permis de me sentir la plus utile »

Marie Sardier

Testimony

Marie Sardier - Food Security and Livelihoods Advisor


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.

I always wanted to get involved in humanitarian work. I have hesitated for quite a long time between social work and travelling. While I was studying, I accompanied asylum seekers in Marseille and when I travelled to the United States I worked with populations from Somalia and Southern Sudan. And then one thing leading to another, I wished to work in the countries where the people assisted came from.

Now for about one year, I have been in charge of a specific project: a methodology and a technical support for surveys that try to understand the root causes of under-nutrition. Since the beginning of my professional career, I have also simultaneously continued my studies in connection with the academic world and prepared a Doctorate. Moments of reflection, analysis and time for taking some distance alternated with practical work in the field that corresponded to the need for me to actually help people.

On August 4, 2006, when the deadly attack occurred in Muttur, I was on a mission in Ghana. I joined Action contre la Faim shortly after and people were talking a lot about this tragedy. Everyone was shocked and dazed: “How can such a terrible thing have happened? Executing people like that, one after the other one...” The teams felt very concerned about security in missions. The consequences of these murders go far beyond the death of our colleagues; it has been a huge loss. Our colleagues working in local teams are a fantastic wealth for humanitarian work. I could give many examples of excellent professionals that are efficient.

Over the past ten years I was amazed to see how much it was possible to connect with people with whom we have nothing in common theoretically. The work and the encounter with the other human being are one of the richest aspects of our jobs. I was very lucky to be able to live and work in small remote bases and to be in connection with local teams on a daily basis, as it was the case for instance in the northern part of South Sudan in a very tiny base in Bahr el Gazal where I was the only Westerner. It enabled me to become closer to people who were clearly very different from me. Hence I could discover many things on me, but also on the other human being standing by me.

Those years, many changes occurred in my personal life. Humanitarian work and private life can go well together, however they are hard to live simultaneously. I lived through incredible experiences, but I was only able to start “building” a private and family life when I returned to France.

While working in various missions, the emergency responses were those that make me feel that I was the most useful to people. And one thing I am particularly proud of is to have been able to work with and assist colleagues from local teams and who decided to continue working in the humanitarian sector; they have become wonderful professional people. And it is not without significance if, today, I am planning to change my job and turn to teaching. I do hope that the humanitarian experience I have had will help me being a better teacher.

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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