An innovator with a big heart — Hinda Abdillahi, Djibouti
A graduate in Transport and Logistics and a mother of three, Hinda has been working in different roles with the World Food Programme over the past 12 years. As part of a series highlighting staff, to mark World Humanitarian Day (19 August 2017), we tell her story.
Hinda does not like routine. Over the 12 years she has spent with the World Food Programme (WFP) in her native Djibouti, this mother of three has covered a variety of roles.
“My first job with WFP was as a field monitor in Obock, in the northern region of Djibouti,” Hinda says. There, she was the face of WFP and monitored the organization’s programmes and initiatives, including school feeding and nutrition work.
“It was difficult to see children suffering from malnutrition,” she recalls. “But it was very rewarding to know you had a direct role in helping them.”
Remembering those days, Hinda is very proud of what she did to promote girls’ education. “At that time, only few girls were studying, but our team managed to bring many of them to school,” she says.
To this day, people in Obock have fond memories of Hinda, who they remember as a dynamic young woman with a big heart.
An innovator by nature, Hinda started new ways of working for WFP in Obock, including setting up community centres for the distribution of nutritious food — a model that was later replicated in Djibouti city.
In 2017, after serving for a few years as Land Transport, Handling and Storage Funds Manager in the Logistics department, Hinda took over as Warehouse Manager, dealing with between 3,000 and 5,000 metric tons of food, and supervising a team of 12 people. She brings years of experience to this role, along with her degree in Transport and Logistics— but she also thinks her gender can be an asset in her position.
“I feel that, being a woman, it is easier for me to remain neutral and resolve conflicts,” she says.
It was perhaps Hinda’s ability to be impartial and mediate disputes that led to her being chosen as Respectful Workplace Advisor for WFP Djibouti in 2014.
“This is a great personal investment for me,” she says. “We have 100 staff here and there can be many interpersonal problems in the workplace — I am here to guide those involved and help them find a solution.”
Hinda’s diplomatic skills were put to the test in the field, too. While working in Obock, she and her team had to turn down a meal that the local community had prepared to thank WFP for its help in restoring roads and building water tanks.
“I felt guilty because of all the effort they had made, but I could not accept,” she recalls. “The community got so offended that when we turned up the next day they refused our assistance. They even accused me of not being a true Djiboutian! I had to explain that we had simply been doing our job and that we could not accept their offer because of our ethical rules — not because we did not appreciate it.”
Even when misunderstandings occur, Hinda is very clear about one thing: “The support we give to people is what motivates me and makes me want to stay with WFP. I am happy to be working in logistics as this is really the backbone of the assistance we bring to people.”
Original interview by Miguel Tomas, WFP Djibouti
Learn more about WFP’s work in Djibouti.