"Context training helped me improve the way we address the needs of refugees"
25 July 2016
Ribhieh Hamadeh is a project manager with the Families Development Association in Jordan. She was part of the first 'Management and Leadership Development' cohort of the Context programme in Jordan, in 2015. She tells us how she has used the training to improve the way her organisation addresses the needs of refugees.
I have been working in the humanitarian field since 1988, with a focus on women’s affairs and community development. I’m currently working as a project manager at the Families Development Association, a Jordanian organisation that aims to increase women’s economic participation in different rural areas. We also provide some relief services to refugees.
Since I’m responsible for managing projects at the Families Development Association, I felt I needed to improve my leadership skills and get to know more about what other organisations are doing in order to improve their humanitarian response programmes. I found that the Context programme could offer me what I was looking for. Many aspects of this journey were interesting and beneficial, especially the focusing on delivering knowledge through interactive training sessions and the use of case studies. It made it easier to gain practical skills in topics such as leading teams, effective communication, and scale-up programmes. Additionally, each participant brought their own experience and skill-set, which enriched the programme.
Context helped me realise the importance of my role and others’ in delivering services to vulnerable groups in our communities. It also raised my awareness of the impact that I can have, whether negative or positive, through my actions.
Opening up channels of communication between refugees and aid agencies
I tried to transfer part of the knowledge gained to my workplace through tackling beneficiaries’ needs properly. In the field, you find that many services are delivered by different organisations - but complaints from beneficiaries that their needs aren’t being met persist. Therefore, I arranged to conduct focus group sessions with twenty of the beneficiaries we serve in my organisation. The aim is to identify beneficiaries’ needs appropriately and then to empower them by raising their awareness of refugee rights and how to be advocates for those rights.
To make the outcome of the sessions more effective, I managed to link our beneficiaries with the Protection Representative from UNHCR where they were given the chance to discuss their needs openly with the organisation that is directly responsible for refugee affairs in Jordan. The UNCHR Representative in her turn, clarified what are the issues that can or cannot be addressed by UNHCR according to their policies. The important outcome of this endeavour was to open up the communication channels between refugees and official organisations, which is hard for refugees to achieve individually.
At an organisational level, there is always room for improvement. Using the skills I learnt through the Context programme, I hope to be able to address some of those issues.
All in all - the Context experience was very fruitful.
Context, led globally by Oxfam GB, is part of the Start Network's Talent Development project. The latter is one of fourteen projects in a portfolio funded by UK Aid (DFID).
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