Aid workers need to stay safe in order to do their jobs - providing life-saving food, shelter, water, and medical attention to people in emergencies. In a conflict-related emergency like the one in Syria, that can sometimes be a tall order. Access into the country is sometimes restricted or even blocked entirely by government and rebel forces. Ongoing fighting, multiple factions, and constantly shifting battle lines put humanitarians at risk of attack and kidnapping as well as preventing them from delivering vital aid to victims of the conflict.
Aid agencies, understandably, are very intent on ensuring that their brave staff in the field remain safe so they can continue assisting the people suffering most in the Syrian crisis. This is where RedR comes in.
Since October 2013, we have been training individual aid workers responding to the Syrian crisis on how to stay safe in the field, even with the deck stacked against them. We have also been working with organizations to improve their security from the top down. This training has taken place in Jordan, Syria's neighbor, now accommodating huge numbers of refugees fleeing the crisis.
All of our training around Syria has been molded to address the unique context faced by humanitarians working in the emergency. The course, Personal Safety and Security, for example, examines real situations such as kidnapping, intimidation, or shooting that are frequently faced by aid workers in and around Syria. It is also offered jointly in Arabic and English in order to meet the language needs of the aid workers operating in the area.
Some of the participants in these courses have held roles that are crucial to the success of aid operations around Syria. The benefits of RedR training have reached aid workers at many different levels, in many different kinds of roles, including:
Participants commented that the course taught them to have "awarness of the environment around us" as well as "how to take the correct acttion in any security issue. They also love our trademark simulations, where participants learn to apply the theory of security management and personal security to real life situations. When our trainees walk out the door after a two-day training in Jordan, they can immediately put into practice the lessons about staying safe that they have learned from RedR trainers.
RedR is working with a number of well-known organizations operating in Jordan and Syria, helping them to improve the capacity of their staff to handle the overwhelming need for relief in the area. Many of our course participants are directly helping refugees in the overcrowded al-Zaatari camp, which is now so big that it is technically Jordan's fourth largest city. Some of the agencies represented are:
RedR is continuing to support these organisations and many more in the region. While much of our training in the region thus far has been delivered to the larger international agencies most able to pay for training places, we hope to extend our support to smaller local organisations where the need for skills training tends to be the highest. We know from our assessments in the region that there is very high demand for our training, so we will continue to try to help the frontline aid workers who are most in need of our support. Your donation is helping us to meet that need, which is ultimately leading to better, more targeted, more efficient, and more effective help for people who lost everything when they fled the unreleting conflict.
Torrential rains in Bangladesh throughout summer 2013, followed by widespread flooding into September 2013, formed an apt backdrop to RedR's community-based disaster risk management training, which was completed this autumn. During the week-long training, 18 participants learned about:
Ten volunteer first-responders who had been involved in recovery efforts after the Rana Plaza factory collapse participated in the training, giving them the opportunity to learn about how to form their own community-based organisation. Volunteers also had the opportunity to network with staff of national and international NGOs, who also attended the training. Rakib Hassan, one of the volunteer first responders at Rana Plaza, commented, “This course brought a combination of good facilitator, participants from NGOs who had expert opinions and experience and volunteers together which helped everyone with proper knowledge sharing.” The NGOs represented were Srotodhara Foundation, PASA, SAFE, Surhid, BRAC, and KBSSS.
The course participants gave the course and trainers a 100% approval rating in all areas, including course content, teaching, materials, and teaching methods. All participants attested that the training had improved their knowledge, skills, and understanding of disaster risk management. Also, every trainee felt that the course was relevant to them and their work.
Dalower Hossain, Programme Coordinator at KBSSS said, “Now I am a trained person on how to handle this type of hazard situation.”
When asked for his opinion about the best aspect of the course, Shahadat Hussein, the volunteer first-responder who contacted us for help, praised RedR's signature “Interactive methods and group works.”
AZM Ridoan, another volunteer, remarked, “The best aspect of the course was group works and discussion in combination with the slide show and videos. We have gained a lot of knowledge from the facilitators as well as the fellow participants. Now, we can handle a tough situation much better way.”
Thanks to our amazing supporters who made RedR's expert training possible, these volunteers are skilled-up and ready to respond to flooding, building collapse, or any other natural or man-made disasters that hit Bangladesh in the coming months and years. Thank you again for your life-saving support.
Thanks to the contributions of many RedR supporters, we have been able to a week's training in Community-based Disaster Risk Reduction for people who had volunteered as rescuers after the Rana Plaza collapse in April.
The course covered topics such as Search and Rescue, Disaster Management, Fire and Safety, and First Aid. Members of the volunteer first responder group participated in the training, learning a range of skills which will help when they respond to future disasters.
RedR offered this training in response to a request from Shahadat Hussein, a Bangladeshi man who had just spent five days and nights pulling survivors from the wreckage of the collapsed iRana Plaza garment factory collapse in Dhaka.
Shahadat is not an employee of the country’s emergency services, nor is he an aid worker. He is a local man who runs a hardware business. When news of the collapsed garment factory broke on local television, he quickly realised that not enough was being done to rescue workers trapped inside the building. He decided to volunteer alongside hundreds of other local people.
Shahadat and the other volunteers saved many lives before the Bangladeshi army stepped in and took over. They improvised search and rescue methods, using their own equipment to drill through the layers of concrete trapping the victims. They worked for hours at a time without proper protection – in dark, airless cavities with no water, boots or hard hats.
“When we found someone still alive inside the building, we did our level best to save that life. This was not an expert rescue. We improvised solutions using any equipment we could.”-Shahadat Hussein
Shahadat was right to seek professional training. The Rana Plaza disaster will not be a one-off occurrence. In June a survey conducted by engineers in Bangladesh revealed that three-fifths of the country’s 600 garment factories are poorly constructed and vulnerable to collapse.
All photos © RedR/GMB Akash