The value of working together

Lessons from WFP humanitarian workers in the Philippines

Delivering humanitarian aid to assist those who are most in need, saving lives, and rebuilding the most vulnerable communities are such huge and difficult tasks. But no matter how hard it may seem, humanitarian workers around the world rise up to the challenge of sharing a part of them and working to achieve these goals every day they can.

For the humanitarian workers of WFP Philippines, as they conquer each challenge after another when reaching out and extending help to those affected by humanitarian crises, they have learned that no goal will ever be impossible nor too big to achieve if they #StandTogether as a team, and when they work together with partners. Be inspired by some of these lessons they have learned through their years of serving people and working with partners for progress at WFP.

WFP Philippines Manila Country Office staff showing their support for the World Humanitarian Day. Photo by Anthony Chase Lim

Carlo Angelo Buñing

A dedicated father, Carlo started his journey at WFP as a Logistics Assistant in December 2009 for the Tropical Storm Ondoy (Ketsana) and Pepeng (Parma) emergency operations. More than 7 years after, he still works with WFP as a Logistics Associate for the love of experiencing and learning how to help different people in different ways.

Challenges are very difficult to handle and overcome if you will do it on your own. But having a partner to work with in looking for solutions is an advantage in facing these challenges and in resolving the problems. Team work is an important factor here.

Isabelle Francine Lacson

Isabelle is a Senior Programme Associate and Institutional Partnerships Specialist for Disaster Preparedness and Response Climate Change Adaptation Project of WFP Philippines. She is an environmentalist who has always wanted to do work that helps people. She has formerly worked in the public sector on various issues like economic development, health, governance, political affairs, and even urban development and sustainable transportation.

Given the size and scope of some of the challenges we face, it is important to keep lines of communication with partners open and transparent, and jointly come up with solutions together. Whether they may be long-term challenges such as how to ensure that communities are more disaster resilient to ones that need immediate response like how do we urgently transport food assistance to areas affected by a crisis, it is important to remember why we face these challenges. And that question goes back to the bigger picture and our mission to fight hunger. It is important to, in a way, see past the day-to-day challenges and examine the big picture of how what we do creates a positive impact on communities.

Anuar Mustapha

A breadwinner to his family, Anuar works as a Monitoring Assistant at WFP Philippines. Outside his WFP work, he volunteers as a coach and mentors social work students in their community.

I find it well that working with various stakeholders and partners are rewarding. There is give and take bond, which enables us all to accomplish work efficiently and effectively. Challenges are great flavors of successful partnership. These obstacles frequently test partnership to becoming more pliant and dependable. Each of us recognizes the gaps and those things that we can’t do alone. Through partnership, the limitations of a certain partner can be addressed by other partners.

Susan Batutay

Susan is a Business Support Assistant at WFP’s Programme unit. Outside of WFP, she actively participates as Secretary of the Nutritionist-Dietitians’ Association of the Philippines in Misamis Oriental. She has always been fascinated by the work of WFP as she had also benefitted from school feeding programs when she was in elementary school.

What makes me stay is the fact that nutrition problem is still at large and WFP’s program is a good vehicle to address the problem. Contributing to its solution indirectly or directly makes me appreciate my chosen profession. WFP works according to the principles of humanity — neutrality, impartiality and transparency. Partners help us in ensuring that these principles are followed at all circumstances.

Juanito Berja, Jr.

Juanito, or “Noy” to his colleagues, is the National Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping Officer of WFP. He is a geographer who advocates for use of free and open source geographic information to reduce vulnerability and food insecurity in the Philippines.

Working together with partners enables WFP to surmount challenges in doing its humanitarian work. Financial limitations are hurdled when WFP’s fund is augmented by counterpart resources from local government units and/or other humanitarian organizations. Inspiration comes from the compliments we got from our partners in return for our assistance in capacitating them in the areas of data collection, analysis and mapping. It is also inspiring to see that through our work in vulnerability analysis and mapping, more and more local communities are becoming less vulnerable, more resilient and more food secure.

Hasna Abubakar — Adam

A wife and a mom to two adorable kids, Hasna has been working with WFP for eight years as a Monitoring Assistant. Before joining WFP, she used to work in a humanitarian organization committed to peace and social development under a Food Assistance Project funded by WFP.

The benefits of working with a partner is complementation of resources in terms of financial and technical capacity, which leads to better outcomes in programme implementation. Now that I am working with the community, especially on promoting education among children, it provides a venue for me to share with the partners how and why education is important in building a better future for our children.

Baptiste Burgaud

Now on his ninth year at WFP, Baptiste currently leads the Supply Chain unit of WFP Philippines. He considers the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda as one of his most inspiring moments where people from different villages of Samar and Leyte would spontaneously come and greet WFP teams and partners to thank for their efforts. It was a rare moment as they were used to do work not asking anything in return, but that show of generosity meant a lot for of all them. He always draws inspiration from his family, which he supports back in France, and his friends from around the world.

Nothing can be achieved without partnerships. The complexity in some context we operate in with our partners, the diversity of the challenges we face together help us build a special bond with our partners. The humanitarian sector has also grown more professional over the last decade and the collaboration follows well established guidelines. It allows us to learn from each other. Preparing together to respond to various crisis is key to a humanitarian project and we owe it to our beneficiaries and donors to keep delivering assistance in the most efficient way.

Jofer Siodora

Jofer is a running and biking enthusiast who has been with WFP for 10 years now. Before he became a Logistics Assistant in Cotabato, he already worked as a staff of a cooperating partner of WFP.

Working with cooperating partners mean getting the food to our beneficiaries in a fast and efficient manner. As a logistician, getting the food to remote and inaccessible areas is always a challenge. But such challenge becomes stress-free when working with transport companies side-by-side as our partner. Now that’s rewarding.

Hananie Macapeges

For over 9 years, Hananie has been with WFP as Business Support Assistant for Admin in Cotabato City. For her, it has always been important to keep and enjoy a healthy work-life balance. She is a loving wife and a proud mother of five children.

I had a chance to join in one of the field missions of WFP and experienced how it was like trying to reach a remote area where the beneficiaries were. It was exhausting but I felt relieved, motivated and rewarded when I saw the smiling faces of our beneficiaries and heard them thanking us for the assistance that we were facilitating. I witnessed how we made difference in their lives through hard work and it was even more inspiring to realize that I am working with a great team of humanitarian workers with a goal of responding and supporting to hunger needs of the most vulnerable people in our community.

Fharouk Lorenzo

A father of two, Fharouk has been with WFP for seven years as a driver. He considers himself lucky being part of a humanitarian team and finds going to field missions very rewarding.

It’s a big challenge going to remote areas with security issues, especially when we are not familiar with it. Through the help and guidance of our partners, finding our ways become easier and safer. It was most inspiring and rewarding when we go to the field and hear inspiring stories — we hear stories of destruction and loss of lives but we still see hopeful smiles. It always makes me proud and happy when I hear people say thanks to WFP.

Czarina Kunso

Prior to joining WFP, Czarina worked with WFP-funded projects conducting feasibility study on cash and emergency assessments relating to food and nutrition security. An advocate for the conservation of the environment and natural resources, her work now as Monitoring assistant under the Disaster Preparedness and Response Climate Change Adaptation Programme brings her deeper understanding of the varied needs of partners and stakeholders she has worked with.

Challenges along the project implementation is inevitable. Involving partners in the resolution process is essential as they may provide analyses and resources to address these concerns, and to ensure a common understanding. Hearing from local government staff that they are now well-versed in GIS mapping, that their municipalities are bagging awards manifest our project achievements.

Juan Blenn Huelgas

Blenn is the National Programme Officer and Disaster Preparedness and Response Climate Change Adaptation Coordinator of WFP Philippines. Being with WFP for 6 years, he finds his work aligned with his personal advocacy of ensuring readiness of local government units and communities at the policy, systems, and skills level.

Partnerships with our stakeholders make WFP’s work more holistic and comprehensive. They provide WFP with the muscle, limbs, heart, and brain to the communities. Professionalism, commitment, and continuing to be relevant by building strategic common goals and directions together with partners are key to ensure continued partnership, as well as maintained integrity and reliability in the humanitarian community. Complementing the capacities of all stakeholders rather than competing is key to better rapport. Trust and transparency at all times with partners rather than self-interest would be vital to ensure reciprocity.

Click here to learn more about WFP’s work in the Philippines.

Read more stories about WFP humanitarians.

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