'A privilege to be able to meet local needs'
Maj Forum is the new Program Manager responsible for Mission East's aid work in Ukraine and Nigeria.
- It is a privilege to be allowed to make a difference in crises that are quite neglected and overlooked.
So says Maj Forum, the newly appointed Program Manager at Mission East, who is now responsible for the organisation's aid work in Ukraine and Nigeria.
Both countries have recently been added to the palette of countries in crisis, which Mission East operates in with experience and expertise. And Maj Forum has experience with similar situations after 12 years in the aid organization Caritas.
- Mission East appeals to me by working in very tough contexts. That's why I applied to the organization to learn new things, expand my experience and do things differently, she says.
Need for an extra effort in Nigeria
What makes you think that a country in crisis is exciting to work in?
- There is learning in detecting concrete local needs and find ways to meet them. It is a privilege to be able to help make a difference, especially in some of the crises that are quite neglected or overlooked. In Nigeria there are some huge needs and unfortunately very few are working in Borno state in north east Nigeria. Therefore, an extra effort is needed right now.
What is the greatest need?
- Food and safety! A faction of the terrorist movement Boko Haram makes the area unsafe, so people flee. They cannot farm. It's too unsafe and people get mugged when they try. So it's a matter of giving them something to eat so they can survive.
Locals can provide quick help after a conflict
There is an enormous food shortage in northern Nigeria, and hundreds of children simply die of hunger every single day, says Maj Forum.
What can Mission East do?
- We are currently collaborating with the Dutch aid organization ZOA and the Nigerian partner organization Community Health, Justice and Peace Initiative for Development (JDPH). But we also need to find local partner organizations - that are on the ground in times of the ups and the downs, who know the population, can build trust, and can provide quick help to those displaced after conflict.
What can Mission East contribute besides sending money?
- We can commit to support for a long period of time and thus create a stable presence in the area. We have already started handing out cash that refugees and displaced people can use to buy food.
Helps the population to create their own income
- At the same time, we try to create sustainable, long-term development. It is important to find the balance between meeting the needs here and now and making people more resilient so that they will be able to support themselves in the future.
How will they be able to cope in the chaotic context?
- In the beginning, we have to think medium-term. We can't start farming projects right now, but maybe we can help them make some small vegetable gardens or other income generating activities. It can be small businesses, so they can get a temporary income and cope better in the coming years. If we only give money, we only help them today and tomorrow. We need to think a little bit more long-term. But it is very difficult in such a context.
Together we make a difference
When you go home from office, what makes you think it was a good day?
- It is a feeling that together we are making a difference out there for the people who need help so badly. At the same time, it is exciting to be part of a staff team where we can all use the experiences we have from different places.
Maj Forum lives in the village of Glumsø outside Copenhagen with her husband and six-year-old daughter. Here she enjoys nature, village life, the garden, the family and uses much of her free time to support her daughter's interests, which includes riding.