A day in the life of a humanitarian

By Ngure Muriithi, Commodities Officer in the Food Assistance Department, South SudanNg

ure Muriithi

Ngure Muriithi works for World Vision South Sudan in our Juba office, and is in charge of our food distribution and voucher programmes for the displaced families sheltering from the violence in UN camps in the capital. Today, for World Humanitarian Day, we have been using our social media channels to help him tell the story of his daily life. At the end of a long day, he reflects on life as a humanitarian.

I grew up in the central part of Kenya, the oldest of three brothers. I’m 34 years old now, and I never meant to go into humanitarian work, but I first started working for World Vision South Sudan six years ago when the office was based in Nairobi. When we moved the base to Juba I moved as well, although my wife and one-year-old daughter have stayed in Nairobi, where things are a bit more settled.

I'm working here as commodities officer in the food assistance department, in charge of Juba POC operations. The Juba POC operations maintain general food distribution and voucher programmes for families like Mary’s. The camp she lives in is the largest of the UN camps in Juba, but there are another two where we also help distribute food and provide vouchers for families.

This work of a humanitarian is quite taxing. Basically, when you're in the field during the day, by the time you come in the evening, you have to do your cooking and get something to eat, and then you have to catch up with what's been happening in the office. By the time you're sleeping, it's around midnight and that means that you've been working for at least 12 hours in a day, in a minimum of six days. It's quite tiresome, and that's why some people like us who are coming from far away, they are provided with an official break for recuperation, at least after every three months.

The situation in South Sudan is disheartening. Peace has been elusive since conflict renewed in December 2013, but the people here have a strong will and hope that one day their country will be peaceful.

The best part of being a humanitarian is being able to see immediately how our work is having an effect. When you distribute the food or hand out vouchers, you can see the change come over our beneficiaries. People smile, and they gain just a little bit of hope that their lives are improving, and a better day might be coming. Visiting families like Mary’s is my favourite part of the job; everyone in this camp has a story and sitting with them I often shed a tear.

For more from Ngure, please visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or instagram, and watch for the hashtags #Ngure #ShareHumanity

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