Monthly Archives: May 2015

Nepal: Who would we be if we did not try?

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Basic health care clinic in Tatopani before second earthquake struck on May 12 (Photo by Kaustaubh Kukde)

May 15, 2015: Night falls in Kathmandu. We sleep in the streets, in the tents, in the parks. The last strong tremor still present in the body. Local or foreigner, it doesn’t matter. In the darkness, we are equally together and alone. All the senses are amplified, each sound is recorded, every movement in the ground.

The worst thing is the dogs’ howling just before an earthquake. Can you trust the warning or is it just one night-blind pooch that confuses itself into scaring us all?

Two new aftershocks last night confirmed the dogs’ premonition. It is the primary wave before the earthquake that animals feel. We humans are fleeing at the larger secondary wave. Yet only by imagining the unimaginable, we can predict the unpredictable. But when the instinct is up against the mind, usually the instinct wins. We run for our lives. No looking back.

I rejoice to hear the first call of the cuckoo at dawn. It’s a strange feeling to hear the cuckooing here in Kathmandu, as if it were in the wrong place. But as long as he calls, I feel safe. Even the birds seem to have their patterns before danger is approaching. They go silent.

Every day we share analysis on how our relief efforts are working. Every step forward is a motivation for us all. But beyond the graphs of tarpaulins, tents and water delivered, there’s always a deeper story…

Maude Froberg is a Communications and Advocacy Manager for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) South Asia and a graduate of the International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA 19).

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Humanitarian Spotlight: Maude Froberg (IDHA 19)

Nepal: Who Would We Be if We Did Not Try?

By Maude Froberg,IDHA 19

 

Night falls in Kathmandu. We sleep in the streets, in the tents, in the parks. The last strong tremor still present in the body. Local or foreigner, it doesn’t matter. In the darkness, we are equally together and alone. All the senses are amplified, each sound is recorded, every movement in the ground.

The worst thing is the dogs’ howling just before an earthquake. Can you trust the warning or is it just one night-blind pooch that confuses itself into scaring us all?

Two new aftershocks last night confirmed the dogs’ premonition. It is the primary wave before the earthquake that animals feel. We humans are fleeing at the larger secondary wave. Yet only by imagining the unimaginable, we can predict the unpredictable. But when the instinct is up against the mind, usually the instinct wins. We run for our lives. No looking back.

I rejoice to hear the first call of the cuckoo at dawn. It’s a strange feeling to hear the cuckooing here in Kathmandu, as if it were in the wrong place. But as long as he calls, I feel safe. Even the birds seem to have their patterns before danger is approaching. They go silent.

Every day we share analysis on how our relief efforts are working. Every step forward is a motivation for us all. But beyond the graphs of tarpaulins, tents and water delivered, there’s always a deeper story.

High up in the mountains, close to the border with China, the Canadian Red Cross had just opened a basic health care unit at the bottom of a valley. It was just after the first massive earthquake on 25 April.

Tatopani, as the town is called, was badly affected, the lives of people shattered and houses demolished. Each day higher numbers of the injured sought assistance. The doctors and the nurses in continuous service, the interpreters their to ensure the service works. How deep is the pain? Can you bend your leg? They treated more than 50 people every day.

Above the clinic clung houses on the hillsides, surround roads cut off. Some days they were closed. Landslides were numerous and heavy rocks rushed down the slopes. But roads were cleared and opened again for passage. The landslides continued.

Here, just 16 kilometers from the epicenter of the second massive earthquake in Nepal, people struggled against all odds. Mountainsides were literally broken apart and soon the city was covered in dust. As was the Red Cross health care unit, but the staff continued to work. Reaching out with helping hands, treating concussions and crushing injuries, they even managed to deliver a baby.

It comes with our mission that no one wants to give up, but this time nature had other ideas. The following morning we withdraw the staff and a seriously injured patient by helicopter. A crevice in the rock just above the health care unit uncovered a large boulder which could tumble down at any time, putting patients and staff at risk.

It was a painful but necessary decision.

The relief efforts in Nepal have only just begun. Under the most difficult circumstances new plans are drawn up, and equipment and supplies are carried out by Red Cross staff and volunteers in a kind of defiant hope. It is challenging work in extremely difficult circumstances. But who would we be if we did not try?

Maude Froberg is a Communications and Advocacy manager for the International Federation of the Red Cross and red Crescent Societies (IFRC) South Asia and a graduate of the International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA 19). This article was written on May 15, 2015.

 

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IIHA Marks Program Milestones

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Ferdinand von Habsburg-Lothringen (Photo by Tom Stoelker)

This upcoming Saturday, Ferdinand von Habsburg-Lothringen, will become the first graduate of the Masters in International Humanitarian Action (MIHA) program, offered by Fordham University’s Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA) and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS).

Ferdinand has been living and working in South Sudan for 16 years – first as a humanitarian worker during the second civil war, and then as an advisor to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Sudan and Southern Sudan focusing on Governance, Peace Building and Community Security and Arms Control. He completed the International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA 9) in 2001, and has since tried to grapple with and better address the deeply rooted historical tensions that have existed between communities in South Sudan. His thesis is a passionate exploration of the narratives surrounding the violence he witnessed in South Sudan and the implications of humanitarian aid within this context.

Featured by Fordham as one of the Faces From the Class of 2015, Ferdinand now works as a consultant for the government of Switzerland in South Sudan to support the Committee for National Healing, Peace, and Reconciliation; the South Sudan Council of Churches; and regional peace talks between the government of South Sudan and rebels. He also works as a consultant for Aegis Trust to support initiatives that help prevent mass atrocities. Devoted father of four, Ferdinand currently lives in Nairobi with his wife and children. Following the diploma ceremony to take place this Saturday, Ferdinand will continue to use his experience and talents to search for peaceful solutions to conflict through dialogue and cooperation.

The IIHA will also celebrate another impressive cohort of undergraduates who have completed the International Humanitarian Studies Minor program, and our first class of students graduating with a Major in International Humanitarian Studies. The inaugural class of Majors includes Barbara Bemer, Catherine Chiodo, Lauren Giangrasso, Isis Quijada, and Lauren Ross.

Congratulations to all of our graduates!

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Alumni Update: Craig Nemitz (IDHA 7)

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Craig Nemitz (IDHA 7) was recently honored by the New International Christian University in Bangalore, India with an Honorary Doctorate in Social Works for his commitment to serve the poor and needy on a global level.

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Alumni Update: Ishmeal Alfred Charles (IDHA 40)

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Ishmeal Alfred Charles (IDHA 40)Healey International Relief Foundation (HIRF) In-Country Manager for Sierra Leone, visited the US in April, stopping at Fordham to take part in a panel discussion focusing on the current situation in West Africa as it continues to recover from the largest Ebola epidemic in history.

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Alumni Update: Debbie Santalesa (IDHA 40) and Josephine Samikannu (IDHA 35)

 

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Our IDHA world gets smaller! Debbie Santalesa (IDHA 40) of CARE Canada and Josephine Samikannu (IDHA 35of CARE Bangladesh recently met each other for the first time while on a CARE emergency training course in Thailand.

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Alumni Update: Timo Lüege (IDHA 21)

Timo Lüege (IDHA 21) has written several articles lately on Social Media for Good, discussing how information and communication technology (ICT) is impacting humanitarian aid. One article details how ICT is being used in the response to the earthquake in Nepal, while another provides a list of articles which similarly analyze technology’s role in Nepal. Finally, he reviewed the book “Digital Humanitarians” which analyzes how big data can allow global responses to crises.

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