Honoring Staff as CRS Marks Five Years in Darfur

Neal Deles, area coordinator for CRS’ new activities in the southern corridor of West Darfur, shares a story from the field.

In September this year, we marked five years of Catholic Relief Services’ presence in Darfur. We have come a long way from the days when staff had to sleep under the stars when we first started food distributions in the northern corridor of West Darfur.

It is comforting to note that 38 of the 43 Sudanese staff who first began working with CRS in Darfur back in 2004 are still with us five years later. During the visit of Sean Callahan, CRS’ executive vice president for overseas operations, we took time out to honor these 38 Sudanese staff members who continue to serve those in need.

Darfur staff

Rasheeda Ahmed receives her certificate of staff recognition from executive vice president for overseas operations Sean Callahan in West Darfur. Photo byNeal Deles/CRS

Many of the program staff started with CRS fresh out of college, got their feet wet distributing emergency food and other essential items, and have since moved on to work on CRS’ education, shelter, agriculture and water projects. As the CRS Darfur family grew, many started their own families as well. Among these are Nimat Bashir and Rasheeda Ahmed, two women who were good friends and just returned from university studies in Khartoum in September 2004 when they applied for jobs at CRS. Nimat is now the most senior female staff in the water and sanitation program, while Rasheeda leads the education team. During the recognition ceremony, their less-than-a-year-old babies were present as well.
It was a happy occasion as we recognized the contributions of guards, cleaners, and program, finance and administration staff. We gave each one a CRS lapel pin—I brought a bag of them back with me from Baltimore——that they now proudly wear when they come to the office.

One of the good things about working in Darfur is the people you work with. CRS’ local staff members have seen international staff come and go, and each time they have welcomed, supported and befriended the newest arrivals. Some of our dedicated staff have survived carjackings, been evacuated or stuck in remote field locations during times of insecurity, and spent days and even weeks away from their families to distribute food, conduct seed and tool fairs, oversee the construction of latrines or classrooms, and respond to other immediate needs of their displaced countrymen. Many of them have also pitched in patiently and taken on more work since March when we expanded our operations into the southern corridor of West Darfur to fill the gaps left by expelled aid organizations.

CRS now serves close to half a million people across West Darfur state and employs around 250 staff. It was good to be reminded of where we have come from and to recognize the people whose dedication and commitment from the start has enabled the growth of CRS in Darfur.

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One Response to “Honoring Staff as CRS Marks Five Years in Darfur”

  1. Mick Smith Says:

    Thank you for your all your hard work for all to those in need!

    Your servant,

    Mick Smith
    CRS Fair Trade Ambassador
    Archdiocese of San Francisco

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