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Staff Insights

Strengthening the Network of Support for Refugees

Published November 28, 2016

Asfaw Woldeyohannes Zegeye is logistics officer at CVT Ethiopia, Mai Tsebri/Shire.

In my work managing logistics for CVT in the refugee camps in Northern Ethiopia, I see every day that we can make a difference for clients with every part of our services. Here in the camps, we are all aware of the traumatic experiences clients have lived through, and all of us work to make things better for them. I work with the social workers, the national counselors, the expatriate psychotherapists – we are all committed to healing refugees who have lived through these difficult experiences. The support I provide is an important part of ensuring that the best care gets to those who need it.

Before I worked for CVT, I was in military operations and worked as a UN military observer officer. My Master’s degree is in Electronics from the Aviation College in Ukraine, but I have always been interested in working with humanitarian organizations. From the early years of my career, I wanted to help people who have been traumatized or who are survivors of torture.

I started working for CVT as part of the group that established our center in Ethiopia, and once the new program was implemented, I applied for the logistics officer position when it opened. From the beginning, we established the staff working areas, building the capacity and controls we need for the program and the centers in Mai Tsebri and the refugee camps, Adi Harush and Mai Ayni. In addition, we set up temporary work spaces in other camps when we need them.

One of my roles is providing transportation and maintaining the vehicles we use for Shire and Mai Tsebri. We handle all transportation for staff and clients to and from the camps and the centers here, and we also have a driver in Addis Ababa to support staff located there. We assist with client transportation from their homes in the camps to the healing center, and we provide transportation for clients for special activities, such as the events on 26 June, the UN International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, and 10 October, UN World Mental Health Day. We also transport all supplies, and we care for the vehicles and do scheduled maintenance. One of the objectives I work toward is to ensure continuous support without interruption. We are very focused on meeting project objectives.

The most important thing is CVT’s mission to help trauma survivors. This is why it’s so important to me to support the staff and run the day-to-day activities so we meet the objectives set up by staff – these are designed and implemented to help clients. Every day I take care of duties that will help people.

I am very happy to work with all the staff at CVT, and I work with every person in the organization. For me, it is interesting working with all the different people, all of whom bring very different work experience to help refugees. They understand the problems. They are committed to healing them. So my presence here to deliver my knowledge and experience and approach to work contributes to the healing. It’s important to me to have good relations with all my colleagues at CVT. The good experience I’ve had here has been a lesson for me. I feel good to be part of the staff.

People in this profession are committed to helping others. I think you have to have a strong humanitarian feeling if you wish to work in a profession where you help others. It’s important to understand the problems the clients have faced in the past, and also the problems confronting them now, in the refugee camps. They have to live with being confined in this area, living with the problems that come from a life of refuge. I understand this feeling. I understand many traditions in the clients’ culture: we have common feelings because we’re neighboring countries. Many of our traditions are the same.

I think that to do this work well, you must understand the feelings. It would be very difficult to be committed if you did not empathize. To do this work, you must be able to have a human connection and be willing to help. People are traumatized by different things, so I try to approach every situation with understanding.

We can make a difference with all our services.

CVT’s work with Eritrean refugees in Ethiopia is funded by a grant from the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration.

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