By Svend Løbner 1 Mar 2022 | Mission East

New program director: 'I want to make sure things happen and that people are involved'

Ashton Mandrup enjoys building something with other people and is completely moved when she sees locals in Asia and Africa embracing development aid.

Ashton Mandrup is the new program director in Mission East from 1 March 2022. She comes from a position as assistant program director in ADRA Denmark and has previously been sent to Vietnam for ADRA and supported the organization's projects in i.a. Rwanda, Uganda, Syria, Yemen, Malawi, Sudan and South Sudan.

“My best experiences are to see local people step into roles themselves and take on the projects to create a better life,” she says. “I will never forget visits to remote small villages on the Vietnamese border with China, where people came from far and wide to learn to read, become better at cultivating the land or mitigating the impact of natural disasters. What a motivation and perseverance!”

“I am also completely moved to see young girls in northern Uganda, where there is so little public support, come together to know their rights, get an education and create a better life. Their initiative and drive excite me!”

Engaged in development aid since childhood

The enthusiasm radiates from Ashton Mandrup and it is no coincidence. She has been involved in emergency relief since she was a child and young person in her home country of Australia. Here she grew up in Sydney, where she went to church and rang doorbells to raise money for relief efforts. Here the seeds were laid for a career in faith-based development organizations.

After a master's degree in international relations and two years in Vietnam, she became international program coordinator at ADRA Australia. In Vietnam she had met her husband Nils, and the couple ended up in Denmark, where they have now lived for 10 years. Here she first became program coordinator in ADRA Denmark, before she became assistant program director in the same organisation.

Looking forward to working with the locals

What do you hope to contribute in Mission East?

- I hope to be able to contribute with my experience from relief work in countries where there are major challenges due to conflict and disaster. Mission East's portfolio of countries is not the easiest to work in. But Mission East’s focus on the flexible so-called nexus concept inspires me: So that we can work in the field of tension between emergency aid, early reconstruction and long-term development.

- It will also be exciting to work even more closely with local employees and partner organisations. It is, after all, a perfect setup: to work with those who feel the needs themselves, know the local culture and have long-term contact with local authorities.

Fun to achieve common results

What is a good working day for you?

- That's when I collaborate with people - when we build something together. I think it's fun when we can achieve common results with the help of each other. I love getting people involved in an idea. I see opportunities and consider myself a good facilitator. I can make sure things happen and that people are involved.

In her spare time, Ashton is busy with do-it-yourself projects, trying out new recipes and exploring with her family in Copenhagen and the rest of Denmark. Ashton and Nils live in Copenhagen's Northwest district with their two little boys of 3 and 5 years