Friday, December 11, 2020

The World Food Programme (WFP) officially received the Nobel Peace Prize for 2020 in Oslo, yesterday 10th December 2020


The World Food Programme (WFP) officially received the Nobel Peace Prize for 2020 in Oslo, yesterday 10th December 2020.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize to WFP "for its efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to bettering conditions. for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war."

This award is a tribute to the, close to, twenty thousand women and men who go to work every day and night to ensure that the most vulnerable don't go to bed on an empty stomach. This award is an acknowledgement of the support of our families and loved ones who are constantly encouraging us to keep going on. Above all, this award is also a recognition of the contribution of millions of people who are committed to the "good fight" in ending hunger and starvation. It is to those who are making "good trouble" (borrowing from the famous words of John Lewis) in advocating for the end to hunger and the use of hunger as a weapon of war. This is to all those who say "enough is enough and never again in my name". Thank you for standing up for what is right.

"We believe food is the pathway to peace" - David Beasley, WFP Executive Director

In his acceptance speech, the WFP Executive Director, David Beasley, reminded us that this is a "call to action". In this era of the COVID-19 pandemic, over 270 million people are marching to starvation. "We have to love our neighbour as ourselves. We have to love our neighbours as our equals". It is only through this love that we can help change the lives of our fellow human beings. Let's step up and contribute in any way we can. We all can do this!

I'll end by quoting one of my favourite heroes: Martin Luther King, Jr.




Friday, October 30, 2020

Education in times of COVID-19: Distance learning, online classes and straddling time zones




What I am about to share is not unique to our household. This is a common theme in most households during the COVID-19 pandemic. Grappling with educating the kids, managing remote learning / distance learning discipline and dealing with the challenges of operating within different time zones, are just few examples of the challenges that families face during this COVID-19 pandemic.

We have 4 children, all attending schools in various forms. To fully protect or disclose their identities, I’ll call them child #1, child #2, child #3 and child #4 😊.


Child #1: She presently resides in the US (UTC-5) and pursuing her masters at university in Germany (UTC+1) – 6 hours ahead of his place of residence. Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, her departure to Germany is pending. So, she starts classes at 4:00am. The university adopted a hybrid model to cater for both the in-class students and the remote students. At the beginning, it was quite tough for remote student participation. The remote students connecting online were sometimes forgotten by their in-class colleagues. However, this teething problem has been resolved as the university continues to improve the new method of instruction and engagement. Well done!


Child #2: He presently resides in the US (UTC-5) and he is in his senior year at university in the US (UTC-5)) – same time zone as his place of residence. He is fortunate to reside and study in the same time zone although most classes are online. As a senior, he was allowed to stay on campus. At least, we don't have to deal with the multiple burden of finding alternate accommodation in a remote country during a pandemic. Thanks to the university for relieving us of this stress. We are extremely grateful.


Child #3: He presently resides in Bangladesh (UTC+6) and he started as a freshman at university in US (UTC-5) – 11 hours behind his place of residence. He could not travel to the US due to COVID-19 travel restrictions for international students. Therefore, the university advised all freshmen to study remotely. So, he starts classes at 6:00pm and, due to after class activities and homework, he goes to bed at 4:00am or at 5:00am. We see him for few hours.


Child #4: She presently resides in Bangladesh (UTC+6) and attends high school in Bangladesh (UTC+6). She is fortunate to reside and study in the same time zone although classes are online. We literally live 5 minutes away from the school campus, but her bedroom has become the new classroom. At the start of the pandemic lockdown, things were tough. Some classes were at night to cater for others who had left the country and were temporarily residing in different places and in different time zones. However, the school has addressed that challenge this school year by using Bangladesh time zone for all classes. Quite some relief.


The parents: For my wife and I, aka “the parents”, we reside in Bangladesh (UTC+6) with child #3 and child #4. I work in Bangladesh (UTC+6) within the same time zone. However, with telecommuting, the lines between work hours and free time are blurred. As part of the senior management, supporting an incredible team of humanitarian workers - some working remotely (telecommuting) and some working in the frontlines, the expectation is to always be available. Therefore, one has to maintain instant availability and continuous presence.

With this configuration, managing time together gets very complicated. You lose track of when is a good time to get together as either one or the other party is in class or is sleeping. Thanks to my wife, she helps keep us all together.


I believe that our story is not unique. It is just one example of the many challenges that families face during this pandemic. Families with younger children have even greater challenges in managing work and helping the kids in remote school. We are lucky that they are old enough to manage their schedules and connect online without requiring our support. Imagine what life is like for younger kids and their parents who have to go to work. Life has to go on.


So many kitchen tables, dining tables, bedrooms, living rooms, balconies and every space that can be utilized, has been converted to make-shift classrooms and offices during this pandemic. Electricity bills are climbing, frustrations are rising, people are physically together but spend less time together.


To all families out there, you’re not alone. We’re in this together and we shall get through this. Stay calm, stay safe and make the best of the “new normal” while it lasts. When it’s all done and dusted, we shall all have interesting stories to share.

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Saturday, October 17, 2020

Setting priorities: Should it be Urgency versus Importance or Urgency and Importance?

 


As James Clear puts it "Do the most important thing first each day and you'll never have an unproductive day." - @JamesClear 

Remember that it is not everything that is URGENT that is IMPORTANT. However, consider all IMPORTANT things as URGENT.

First, give priority to the important and urgent things in your life. Then, focus on the important things, even if not urgent. If left attended, they will become urgent at some point. So, don't ignore them.

If there is time, consider dealing with the urgent stuff that may not be important. However, if you can delegate this to someone else, then do so.

For the stuff that's neither important nor urgent, well, why is it on your list?

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Friday, October 9, 2020

WFP wins Nobel Peace Prize: A truly proud moment for all those fighting to end hunger, wars and conflicts...


I am especially proud today to learn that the United Nations World Food Programme has been recognized by the Nobel Committee as winner of the Nobel Peace Prize 2020.

This is indeed a very proud moment for all of us. This remarkable achievement is a recognition of the wonderful work done all over the world to make the world a better and safer place. It is a recognition that lack of food can lead to conflict and conflicts lead to lack of food. This vicious cycle with hunger, anger and violence must stop.

"A hungry man is an angry man" - Bob Marley and The Wailers

Thanks to all my colleagues at the World Food Programme, thanks to our partners in the frontlines and thanks to all our supporters and donors in helping in this fight.


Announcement of the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize 2020 was awarded to World Food Programme (WFP) "for its efforts to combat hunger, for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict."




World Food Programme Chief pays tribute to front line staff and partners after Nobel Peace Prize win



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.”
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“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.”

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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





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