Friday, September 25, 2020

Transcript and podcast of my interview with the "Black Humanitarian" - 16 July 2020


Alpha Bah is currently Deputy Country Director of the WFP Bangladesh Country Office. He has worked in the development/humanitarian sector for 26 years, having started with UNDP in 1994 for 6 years before moving onto WFP for 20 years.

“I come from Sierra Leone πŸ‡ΈπŸ‡±, a country that benefitted from the work we do as humanitarians. I’ve been fortunate to find myself in a job where I get to interact with people who are on the receiving end of our work. Similarly, in my previous role as the Chief of IT Emergency Preparedness & Response πŸ“‘, you can see first-hand the contribution we are making on the frontlines.”
“My work experience means I can identify with what happens both on the frontlines, and on the back-end - being able to see the value of the work people do behind-the-scenes and how it translates to helping people. Be it witnessing first-hand the work of medical staff in the Ebola response πŸ‘©πŸΏ‍⚕️πŸ‘¨πŸΎ‍⚕️ or support provided to refugees in Bangladesh, or indeed the support we as an organization provide to take care of our own staff and others during the COVID-19 response πŸ₯. It makes me proud to belong to an institution that cares.”

“Humanitarian work has its own challenges, but that’s a given due to the nature of the job. A challenge is balancing between doing this type of work while managing the dynamics of being flexible and mobile ✈️, and raising a family. There is no right or wrong way of doing it - people make personal choices.”

“Sometimes you see the pros and cons of these choices, where you may decide to focus on the freedom to move while your family remains in one place 🧳, or just picking up the whole family to move with you πŸš™. I fall into the latter category.”

“You have to work harder to make sure you maintain stability for your family and not just for yourself. This is one of the key things to think about - that then gives you the freedom to navigate in the workspace and do what you’re supposed to do, recognizing that the family is taken care of.”

“When working in cultures outside of your own, recognize that as humans anywhere you go πŸ—Ί, whether it’s conscious or unconscious, prejudice or bias, as humans we tend to be curious about what’s different. My experience is no matter what, there will always be that curiosity, it just matters how you handle it.”

“I would still like to make the distinction between what you can accept as curiosity because you look different versus racial bias and discrimination. Discrimination is something I don’t think anyone should accept πŸ›‘. People may hear you speak and say “Oh, how come you speak English so well?” Coming from a conflict zone, sometimes the only thing people knew was the war. So it’s like “How come you still have two hands? You’ve not been amputated yet?”

“This is why it is important for us to tell our own stories πŸ’¬. If we don’t tell our story, somebody else will and may do so in ways that you do not want it to be told.”


Here's the link to the Instagram post

You can listen to the podcast here πŸŽ™

You can also watch the full interview on YouTube

1 comment:

  1. Great Interview Alpha. I enjoyed listening to your insights and can relate to some of the points you raised on curiosity and loving what you do and having a connection to it. I have broadened my view point on how you moved from an IT background to humanitarian work because your heart was in it from the very start. May the Almighty continue to guide your path.


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