Topic Humanitarian Work
Date August 30, 2017
Tags, ,

Humanitarian Work with Amanda Maher

Amanda Maher,  is  based in Erbil, Iraq, where she supports the United Nations Office for Project Services in the operation of the Iraq IDP Information Centre, a joint-initiative by major donors and UN agencies aimed at improving the collective accountability of actors in the Iraq response to the affected population. During the Ebola crisis, she worked with the World Health Organization for a chance to get some experience volunteering. There, Amanda supported the Information Management and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) department at WHO HQ for five months before receiving an offer to pursue an internship opportunity in Amman, Jordan, with an international NGO called iMMAP. After four months she was hired and  worked there on various projects pertaining to the Syria crisis for the next 18 months, after which she decided it was time for a change of atmosphere.

Amanda transitioned to Kabul, Afghanistan, with the same organization, to work on the humanitarian crisis there in capacity building of local networks to improve the information management potential that could play a huge role in the response.

On August 30th 2017, Amanda hosted a live 30 mintute Q&A session on Goodwall. The session was joined by over 125 students from around the world.

"You can be a humanitarian with ANY background!"

Do you specialise in disaster management? —Aman

I don’t specialise in Disaster Management.

What are NGOs? —Amrita

NGOs are Non Governmental Organisations and are often times non-profit.

You don’t need to have an end goal in sight to work for an NGO. The humanitarian field is like any other one – we need people with all kinds of skills to maintain operations. International relations, development etc. are all good paths, but you can be an engineer, doctor, or IT specialist and work in this field and often they are the ones needed most.


How can you apply for an internship to the UN? —Lorenzo

Honestly, you don’t necessarily have to have an internship. You can also do volunteer work.

Where should we volunteer? —Agrima

Find small initiatives and groups you can dedicate time to for free. I know it’s hard on a student budget, but it is the most fulfilling work and the UN values volunteering time as much as experience.

Is there an age requirement to volunteer at UN agencies? —Shagufta

Age limits will depend on the organization you are volunteering for. But if you look at your CV, they won’t be counting your age – they’ll be counting your years of dedication.

If I choose law, can I join the UN? —Ha Ta

Yes definitely!

I had completed courses on sustainable community development via DLP courses and since then, last 5 years I have been a part of an NGO working for it. How can I proceed further? —Aman

You can eventually look at humanitarian affairs, support to the regional coordinator during an emergency, and work for the UN office for Coordination and Humanitarian Affairs.

So what do we need to do to become a volunteer in UN? Is there somewhere to apply? —Maria

I would recommend looking at reliefweb. If you search that website, it has all of the employment and internship opportunities available. another alternative is

Where are you now and how we can join in volunteer work? —Med

I am in Erbil, Iraq working for UNOPS – United Nations Office for Project Services.

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You don’t need to volunteer with an NGO to get relevant experience. You can get involved in community outreach programs, social impact initiatives and even local groups.

Is there any environment conservation sector in UN? —Aman

Yes, definitely! We have the UNEP – UN Environmental Programme.

How did you start? —Nermine

I started in the private sector. I studied Urban Development and majored in something called spatial science. Does anyone know what that is?

No, can you please explain what spatial science is? —Nermine

Spatial Science is the study of location. It includes topics like Geographic Information Science, Land Surveying and Administration, and Geospatial Positioning or GPS.

Is there any program in Nepal or any opportunity for me to do volunteering? —Nutan

I would be surprised if there wasn’t. I am sure there are many local organizations playing an active part in reconstruction after the earthquake there, and I have no doubt those activities are still ongoing.

My background is scientific. I applied it to the study of Urban development and how our most densely populated areas can cope with how we are expanding. Even this has applications in the humanitarian field – what if a disaster hits a major city?

How long did you work on the Syria crisis? —Jawad

I worked on the Syria crisis from Jordan for almost 2 years.

Some people view that if they can't get money for something, they are not interested. —Maria

Yes. The thing is, working in this sector can be financially rewarding. Most organizations understand the risks we take to operate in dangerous places. But we need to work at 150% to respond to an emergency.

I love zoology, environmental, humanitarian & unity I really want to join the UN because I want my life to be worth-living, I really want to be facing real world issues and find the solutions for them . Right now I’m only a female student that’s always volunteering in a local nature organization is it possible for me join the UN? —Ha Ta

Yes. you are off to an excellent start keep going and looking for new opportunities and challenges. But most of all focus on networking people are everything, and your merit will speak for itself.

How exactly are the volunteers expected to be like? —Seyed

The need to bring good energy to the table and a new perspective. Respect those with more experience but don’t be afraid to propose new solutions. Understand that the dirty work never ends – whether you are an intern or an expert in your field you need to do your laundry as they say! Oh, and LEAVE YOUR EGOS AT HOME PLEASE!! That’s my personal touch.

If i want to join the UN, do i need to move to new york? —Ha Ta

Definitely not. UN agencies operate everywhere. But give the NGOs a go first!

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Is it a must you know someone inside the NGO to get the job? —Jawad

You can definitely get a job without knowing someone inside but it always helps. This which is why it’s important to network.

Challenge and tribulation is relative, there are advantages and disadvantages to living and working everywhere.

Topic Humanitarian Work
Date August 30, 2017
Tags, ,