My humanitarian experience in two different worlds!

My name is Shokhan and I have more than 11 years of humanitarian sector experience in many different international organizations in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. I recently started working with Options Community Services and InWithForward, and I would like to share with you my experience in these two different worlds. In my first day of the sprint — three days of intensive work with two amazing teams to analyze refugee experiences and their challenges – I felt really strange and somehow shocked about what I used to do and what the two teams do here!

I want to explain to you why I felt like that and if my feelings changed in the last day of the sprint or not? I would love to tell you a few of the similarities and differences in the two different work worlds because when I made the comparison myself then I understood my feelings and why my previous work is different from what I am doing now.

First of all, it is well known that Canada is completely different from Iraq in all aspects. In Iraq, we had internally displaced people (IDP) and refugees, but in Canada, there are only refugees. In Iraq, the organizations can only respond to people’s basic survival needs, such as for tents and food, due to the vast number of refugees entering the country in a day, week or month. Iraq was not prepared to receive that number of people in advance and also Iraq was the immediate place that refugees turned to when problems started in their country. While in Canada it is not like that, things are done in a more systematic way and preparations are made for receiving the refugees.

In Canada, refugees face other problems, problems that attention is not paid to in Iraq, where basic needs are considered most important. One of the challenges refugees face in Canada is emotions — particularly missing and worrying! Missing the family members who are left behind and worrying about their safety as well. These emotions are affecting their daily lives. Even if people have money, a house and safety it means nothing if they are feeling unhappy.

During the three days of the sprint — where we dug deep and found out more about emotions and the importance of emotions — my own feelings changed positively. I realized that this is important too, and so too is what I worked on for the last 11 years. You need food, shelter, and security to stay alive and you also need to have peaceful emotions and feelings in your mind and heart to be able to continue your life.

In other words, I realized that in the humanitarian sector I was part of saving lives in both countries, but in different ways, because we were and now are dealing with different problems that affect people’s lives.

The resources and needs are different that’s why the programs are different too. Organizations in Canada and Iraq are saving lives but in different ways with different types of help.

My blog in Kurdish


Shokhan Darwesh

Shokhan is the Impact Apprentice for Options Community Services in Surrey. She has a BA …

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