Field visits

Finding Niger

July 26, 2012
by 
Kelly Di Domenico, Communications Officer

Niger is one of those countries that seems forgotten on the map, a place at the edge of the world that feels like it has been lost in time. The imagination can't even seem to conjure what it would look like because we hear so little about it. Yet, this large African country is currently experiencing a food crisis that is affecting 6 million people.

Back to Blama, Sierra Leone

June 20, 2012
by 
Trevor Cook, Program Officer for Africa

I first visited Blama in November, 1989.  It was my first trip as a program officer for Development and Peace.  After visiting the Pastoral and Social Center, where Development and Peace was funding an impressive leadership training programme called D.E.P.

Food aid in Burkina Faso

May 15, 2012
by 
Geneviève Talbot, Program Officer for Emergency Relief

I have arrived in Burkina. It was more or less of a chaotic arrival! I was meant to fly to Bamako, Mali, to later travel to Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso, but the situation being what it is, the flight to Bamako was cancelled and I landed directly in Ouaga. Fortunately, our partner OCADES knew what to do and I found myself in good hands!

Back in Montreal

May 7, 2012
by 
Guy Des Aulniers, Program Officer for Emergency Relief

I am writing my last blog post from home in Montreal. With the airport in Bamako closed, I was driven by our friends at Caritas Mali to neighbouring Burkina Faso (14 hours) so that I could fly back to Montreal from Ougadougou.

Agitation in Bamako

May 1, 2012
by 
Guy Des Aulniers, Program Officer for Emergency Relief

Monday 4 p.m. and the first shots are heard. In these circumstances, we always ask ourselves if this noise is simply a car engine exploding. But after the 10th detonation in 15 minutes, we no longer ask ourselves this question. For a moment, there is a lull, but the shots begin again around 7 p.m. I was at a restaurant with Gaston Goro, Emergencies Coordinator with Caritas Mali. We were meant to go pick up Ary from the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB), who was arriving that night, but his flight was delayed by a sand storm that hit Bamako.

A Sunday in Bamako

April 30, 2012
by 
Guy Des Aulniers, Program Officer for Emergency Relief

I spent my first day in Bamako with Gaston Goro, the Emergencies Coordinator at Caritas Mali, and Mamadou Diakité, an accountant with the organization. Caritas Mali was the first Caritas in the region to launch an appeal for aid to go towards the current food crisis here, but the response of the Caritas network – and the international community  -  has been slow.

Returning to the source

April 26, 2012
by 
Guy Des Aulniers, Program Officer for Emergency Relief

It seems like just yesterday that I was 20 years old and a law student at the University of Laval in Québec. I had just been selected by Canadian Crossroads International to go to Africa – Mali to be precise. I was leaving North America for the first time. In fact, it was the first time that I was travelling by plane! Was I excited? I can still remember singing with the nuns next to me on the Alitalia flight! They were on their way to visit Rome, which for me was just stopover on my way to Bamako.

Water, please!

February 12, 2012
by 
Guy Des Aulniers, Program Officer for Emergency Relief

Following the 2011 drought, Caritas Kenya launched an emergency appeal for 14 of the country's 25 dioceses. Over the past four days, I have visited projects in three of those dioceses.

Emergency relief and the media

February 7, 2012
by 
Guy Des Aulniers, Program Officer for Emergency Relief

"The media have prevented humanitarian organizations from being strategic." The judgment is harsh. It is from Overtoun Omgezulu, regional emergency relief coordinator for the Horn of Africa at Trocaire. He saw the media parade through the region during the summer of 2011. Media pressure forced the organizations to spend money quickly so as to justify the use of the funds sent in. Otherwise, they were afraid that they would face accusations by the public.

Karibu!

February 6, 2012
by 
Guy Des Aulniers, Program Officer for Emergency Relief

I knew Nairobi for having passed through it, many times, when I was heading for Rwanda or Burundi. I always stayed downtown, just for a night, before taking off again. I’ve been in town for just 24 hours but this time the situation is different. I’m staying outside the city, in the Westlands district, 15 minutes from downtown at the All Africa Council of Churches. It's an upscale neighbourhood, far away from the monster downtown traffic jams. What do I mean by monster? At rush hour—meaning anytime between 8 AM and 7 PM—a 15-minute trip can take two hours!