Tag Archives: IDHA

Milestones Testimony: Florian Razesberger

This is an abbreviated version of a testimony written by IDHA Alumnus and Tutor Florian Razesberger (IDHA 20), featured in Milestones in Humanitarian Action, available for purchase on the Fordham Press website.

When I first learned about the International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA), I was advised that it was probably not for me. A friend was taking the course at the time, and she thought that with my profile and background, I should look for a different course. “After all, you are a lawyer,” she said.

I am, in fact, a lawyer by education, and my work always has had some connection to legal issues; however, I have never been content to sit in a corporate office, trading my lifetime away for money I did not need. To be reduced to the stereotype of a lawyer — tough but boring, a technical stickler, colorless in suit and humor, unscrupulous, and most importantly, greedy — annoys me to no end.

I decided to apply to the IDHA for the same reason I decided to study law a decade earlier: curiosity. Back then I had absolutely no idea what law was about, but when I applied to the IDHA, I thought I had at least some idea about humanitarian assistance. After all, the work I had done as a lawyer always related to the situations of conflict, but mostly from a legal side. Yet when I looked at the IDHA curriculum, subjects like humanitarian reform, logistics, or camp management did not tell me anything. Only on the “law day” was there some beacon of clarity within the whole program. The rest was unknown.

What I knew was the routine of everyday work. At the time, I was working on rule of law issues in Macedonia, preparing trainings on war crimes for judges and human rights workshops for young lawyers. It was time for something different. Winter was coming and November in the Balkans is a rather bleak affair. The prospect of learning about a completely foreign subject for a whole month in a place like Nairobi, with people I had never met, and who came from different fields and from different countries I had never visited, was a “no-brainer.” My boss initially suspected that all of this was a cover for a safari trip and a vacation on the Mombasa beaches, but eventually he agreed to let me go for the month. It turned out to be a different kind of safari. Someone once referred to the IDHA as a humanitarian boot camp, and there is certainly some truth to this. My colleagues in Macedonia suspected that I would be having idle fun among giraffes and white sand, but that was not the case.

To be basically locked up in a compound, which took the innocent shape of a convent run by caring nuns; to be put to work for four weeks in a row; to come up time and again with reasonable, presentable products; to take exams every Monday; to write a research paper over the weekends; and to sit in class 50 hours each week while staying up until the wee hours with colleagues in order to prepare presentation each Friday — that can be a hell of a ride. Especially when raw emotions take over, exhaustion caused by information-overload creeps in, and frustrations mount as, for some strange reason, your team members do not always agree with your opinions.

The formal education I received in the first two decades of my life differed vastly from the education I received from the IDHA. I had learned to be better than others, to measure myself against my colleagues and aspire to beat them; now, as an IDHA student, I had to learn to be a team player. Our teachers told us we would be together for every day of every week, and worst of all, that we would be graded as a group for out output, and not as individuals. Four long weeks lay ahead of me.

The IDHA was a turning point for me. As I moved to new places and tasks, I felt comfortable taking the lead in certain situations. I became an active leader, despite my insecurities, and over time I became a trainer, a public speaker, and also a manager. The IDHA syndicate work showed me how to communicate better, not only in the context of humanitarian aid, but also as a partner, a family member, and a friend.

Emotions often get the better of us, not only in situations of war and crisis, but also in our everyday lives. The IDHA taught me how important it is to respond constructively and respectfully, and even when you are pushed beyond your personal boundaries, to make rational decisions.

The course was an ideal way to test my limits, to measure myself in situations that push me out of the comfort zone and provide me with the opportunity to grow. It is only when our guard goes down, when we are tired, annoyed, bored, and irritated, that we are able to learn about sides of ourselves we never knew existed.

In the end, the IDHA is about the passionate moments, big and small: the moments in the syndicates, during fights or during jokes; the moments in the classroom, during the talks and during the breaks; the moments in the hours after class and during the sleepless nights. Those I take with me.

 

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Ruth Jebb, Humanitarian Nurse and IDHA Alumna, Awarded Florence Nightingale Medal for Exceptional Courage and Devotion

Ruth Jebb at work during a cholera outbreak in Torit, South Sudan

July 17, 2017, New York – In her everyday life in Brisbane, Australia, Ruth Jebb (IDHA 37 alumna) works as a Clinical Nurse Consultant at a large tertiary hospital, but when disaster strikes abroad she takes on the role of nurse and midwife as an emergency responder deployed with the Red Cross and the Australian Medical Assistance Team.

Throughout her myriad of deployments she has provided lifesaving care during earthquakes in New Zealand and Nepal, typhoons in the Philippines, conflict in South Sudan, cholera outbreaks in Chad, among other trying situations. More recently, she has focused on training local health care responders in community health provision, psychosocial support, and maternal, neonatal and child health care.

Twelve years after beginning her humanitarian health care career in northern Kenya, Ruth was awarded the prestigious Florence Nightingale Medal this past May. The award acknowledges five Australians who have shown “exceptional courage and devotion to the sick, wounded or disabled in conflict or disaster zones.”

She was selected by a commission of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the International Council of Nurses.

Whether at home or in humanitarian situations abroad, Ruth remains committed to her responsibility to “support, mentor, teach and lead.” However, in humanitarian settings, the distinct lack of access to resources, intense workloads and contextual differences poses a more severe set of challenges.

“Back at home, I often take it for granted that we work in a protected environment, where people are able to access quality health care safely and efficiently. We have all the resources we need to provide care to those who need it. Often, when working in developing contexts and post-disaster environments, it can be heartbreaking hearing the stories of people travelling for days to reach health care facilities, or of those who never make it, often with ailments that require simple life-saving and life-changing interventions.  It can be confronting not being able to provide the same standard of care that we are so accustomed to back home.”

Security issues further impede these efforts, often adding another layer of complexity.

“Although personal safety is a priority it can be incredibly frustrating to be limited by security incidents that are occurring either directly or indirectly, especially when it involves life and death situations amongst the community you are there to assist.”

In 2007, she was deployed on a nine-month mission to manage the ICRC’s Therapeutic Feeding Center in Gereida, Darfur. Home to close to 145,000 internally displaced persons, Gereida was “a challenging mission, not only as a result of the direct impact of looking after so many unwell, undernourished and often dying children, but also because of the ongoing security risks that were a reality of our day-to-day life.”

Ruth recalls one incident when her vehicle was hijacked at gunpoint. She escaped the situation unscathed, but the access the team was allowed to have in that location was consequently impeded, drastically affecting the impact of their mission.

In spite of such challenges, Ruth managed patient intake and triaged thousands of patients in the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, the deadliest in the country on record killing 6,300 people. She also coordinated the activities of four Red Cross hospitals and 6 mobile health units following the 2015 earthquake in Nepal.

On these missions, her main objective has been to offer training to local health care workers in pursuit of more sustainable disaster relief.

“Supporting and prioritizing capacity building is paramount in disaster response.  Not only does mentoring and training become an avenue for relationship building, but it also enhances local capacity for future disaster responses.  Committing to developing the skills and training of the local staff is also key to engagement and acceptance,” she said.

Honored to receive this award, Ruth accredits the motivation for her work to groups like the Australian Red Cross, who have an “unwavering commitment to helping those in need, whether it be locally or in our backyard, or in the context of an international humanitarian crisis.”

“For me the Red Cross embraces the responsibility of placing value upon humanity,” she says.

Ruth Jebb is an alumna of the IIHA’s International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance.

Angela Wells, IIHA Communications Officer

Johanna Lawton, IIHA Communications Intern

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Robert De Niro to 2017 IDHA Graduates: “You Are My Heroes”

In his commencement address to the 50th graduating class of Fordham’s International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA), legendary Hollywood actor Robert De Niro urged the humanitarian aid workers to let their “inner humanitarian” guide them into making the world a better place.

The ceremony, held on June 30 at the Lincoln Center campus, honored 25 IDHA graduates and two recipients of the Master of Arts in International Humanitarian Action program. The students hailed from 17 countries around the world, including Italy, Tajikistan, New Zealand, Egypt, Poland, and Pakistan.

Before addressing the graduates, the Oscar-winning actor, whose film credits include Taxi Driver, The Godfather: Part II, Raging Bull, and who appeared most recently as Bernard Madoff in HBO’s The Wizard of Lies, commended his longtime friend Kevin Cahill, M.D., IIHA’s founder, as a “man of great culture and enormous warmth.”

“Like many of you, he had an instinct for finding himself in places where the need was greatest,” De Niro said.

The actor told the graduates that they too were “true humanitarians” because they “served with compassion and dignity” while making sacrifices and taking “heroic risks.”

“Now you’ve gone through this program so that you can perform your work more effectively,” he said. “You have distinguished yourself here, and you will take those lessons with you for the rest of your life.”

De Niro, who received an honorary diploma, said that while many people might solely deem humanitarian workers as “wonderful people doing heroic work,” he considered them “shining examples of what can be achieved when you find the humanitarian hidden inside.”

“By inspiring others, you increase your impact exponentially,” he said before reading the names of the entire graduating class. “You are my heroes,” he told them.

Bart Vermeiren, who delivered the IDHA participant address, said completing the program is a huge milestone.

“We all embark on a new or old journey in our lives, but one day or another, sooner or later, we will use our IDHA wisdom and put it into practice with our learning experiences to the benefit of ourselves, and, most importantly, to the benefit of the people in need,” he said.

It’s a message that resonated with Naomi Gikonyo, a humanitarian practitioner with nearly a decade of experience in emergency response interventions in countries including Haiti, Libya, South Sudan, and Kenya.

“This program has pushed me to apply a lot of what I’ve learned into the field,” said Gikonyo, who works as an emergency preparedness and response officer for the United Nations World Food Programme. “It’s instrumental because we’re dealing with humanitarian crises with high complexities.”

Dr. Cahill told the graduates not to be afraid of the challenges ahead. “You have the ability to go over barriers, to not be blocked in by academic barriers or those barriers that separate us from each other,” he said.

After 20 years of courses and 3,000 participants representing 140 nationalities, Larry Hollingworth, director of humanitarian programs at Fordham’s Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs, which runs the IDHA program, said IDHA continues to create impact.

“We are in that unique position that we’re not in uniform, but we find ourselves on the front line,” he told the graduates, whom he said are leading emergency medicine in makeshift hospitals, opening schools in remote camps, and “staying on when others have left.”

“Stand up for you values, and your beliefs. Do what you want to do. Be bold and be brave.”

This article was originally published by Fordham News.

 

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Propel Your Humanitarian Career Forward

International Diploma In Humanitarian Assistance

Shaping Humanitarian Leaders

LIMITED SPOTS STILL OPEN for IDHA 50

Media reports and images inundate the world with humanitarian crises: refugees drowning at sea, populations ravaged by famine, and seemingly endless conflicts. Collective and coordinated responses to humanitarian crises have never been more essential. Good intentions to respond and act must be informed by practical experience, technical knowledge, and academic critique.

Grounded in social justice and humanitarian ethics, the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA) at Fordham University endeavors to make the global response to humanitarian crises more sustainable, effective, and dignified. Through the intersection of critical academic analysis and concrete hands-on experience, we believe that humanitarian action can transform the world.

Photo provided by IDHA Alumnus Rahul Singh, Founder of GlobalMedic Mission

The International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA), the flagship program of the IIHA, equips mid-career humanitarian professionals to drive the humanitarian sector of the future in a more innovative direction. For 20 years, the IIHA has trained thousands of humanitarian workers in cities around the world – from Kathmandu to Amman, Geneva to Cairo.

This June the IIHA will commence its 50th IDHA course in New York City and we want you to join us! IDHA 50 students will join a cohort of diverse and highly qualified aid and development professionals from all over the world in a one-month intensive course to receive one-of-a-kind training from world-renowned experts in the humanitarian field.

The course provides the critical skills and knowledge to more effectively intervene in the complex emergency and protracted crises of the 21st century. The curriculum is highly interactive and participants will gain:

  • Extensive insight to the needs of people affected by conflict, disaster, and displacement;
  • Skills in facilitating cooperation and dialogue between international, governmental, and non-governmental agencies;
  • Awareness, understanding, and skills essential for effective service in emergency and protracted humanitarian crises;
  • Opportunities to collaborate and network with colleagues working for diverse international, governmental, and non-governmental humanitarian agencies;
  • Tools to evaluate interventions and identify examples of good practice; and
  • Methods for anticipating and preventing humanitarian crises.

Upon completion of the course, graduates will receive eight graduate level credits accepted towards a Master of Arts in International Humanitarian Action at Fordham University, or potentially their studies at other academic institutions.

Course Fee: $5,500 includes tuition, course materials, lodging, and all weekday meals for one month.

Applications are still open for the New York course in June and another IDHA course in Vienna, Austria from November 5 to December 1, 2017.

Visit the IIHA website to learn more and apply.

Housed at Fordham, the Jesuit University of New York, the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA) educates a future generation of humanitarians in the classroom, shapes humanitarian leaders in the field, and innovates solutions to challenges in humanitarian crises.

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Looking forward to 2017

Dear IIHA Community,

As we wrap up the first month of 2017, allow me to extend my warmest wishes to you for the year ahead. 2017 promises to be a year of great growth for the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs and I wanted to reach out to you, to review where we are going, and how we intend to deepen our engagement with our community.

After 16 years of continued growth and nomadic movement through four different offices at Fordham’s Lincoln Center Campus in New York City, the IIHA will move to the Rose Hill campus. By being closer to Fordham’s academic community, we hope we will be able to provide new opportunities for our students. We will be located in Canisius Hall where additional space will allow us to bring in more dedicated research fellows and host exhibitions, lectures, and other extra-curricular events. This is the first of many changes that 2017 will bring.

After five years, we are saying goodbye to Dr. Alexander van Tulleken who is moving on from the Senior Fellow position to concentrate on his medical, media and humanitarian work throughout the world. This is no small change. Under his academic guidance, the undergraduate program flourished, and his insight and multidisciplinary and praxis-based approach informed our transformative approach to education. I know the decision to leave his undergraduate teaching and advising role with the Institute was not an easy one, but we are confident he will continue to be an active contributor to the Institute.

We are actively seeking his replacement and are fortunate to have welcomed two new members to the team. Ms. Angela Wells will serve as our the new IIHA Communications Officer. Ms. Wells, who had been working with Jesuit Refugee Service in East Africa, will direct our social media, websites, and communications initiatives. She looks forward to working with and being a resource for all of you. Giulio Coppi has become the first Humanitarian Innovation Fellow at the Institute. Mr. Coppi is the founder of High Tech Humanitarians, a project for humanitarian innovators supported by the Institute.

He is one of four core team of contingent faculty and research fellows teaching our undergraduate courses this semester, including:

  • Pat Foley, an applied anthropologist with 20 years of experience in emergencies, recovery and development;
  • Giulio Coppi, an expert on the use of Open Source technology and community-based approaches to humanitarian response;
  • Laura Perez, an internationally recognized expert on the protection of children in situations of armed conflict; and
  • Rene Desiderio, a technical expert in emergency and humanitarian response operations as well as topics ranging from population and development to international migration and gender.

We are additionally endeavoring to launch a new Master’s in Humanitarian Studies program, based on our New York campus. Paperwork for this initiative has been submitted to the New York State Department of Education and we are awaiting their approval. This program will allow us to extend our training to recent undergraduates and young professionals seeking to make their next step in their humanitarian careers.

Our Master’s in International Humanitarian Action (MIHA) program and short courses for humanitarian workers will also continue to thrive with courses around the world. This year we will host three diploma (IDHA) courses in Nepal, New York and Vienna, as well as specialized short courses in Barcelona, Amman and Vienna. We are particularly excited for the summer IDHA in New York, as this will be the 50th diploma course to date. We are proud to have reached this milestone and will commemorate it with memorable activities.

As the year progresses forward, we hope to be an intellectual catalyst of discussion, collaboration and action toward a more socially just world. Our door and ears are open and we look forward to hearing your thoughts on how we can better serve this community.

Warmest regards,

Brendan Cahill
Executive Director
Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs
Program Chair, Humanitarian Studies

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IDHA Alumni Report from the Field: Hungarian Baptist Aid conducts fact finding mission in Erbil, Iraq

HBAIDHungarian Baptist Aid (HBAID) arrived to Erbil to explore more on the current humanitarian and security situation as well as to meet with national and representatives of international humanitarian NGOs working in this region. The aim of this visit is to potentially provide assistance right there at the root of the problem. As known since the Mosul’s military offense has started, the number of civilian and military casualties is continually increasing. There is an urgent need for medical assistance and humanitarian support in this region. According to UNHCR data, since the Mosul offensive began, 2,935 families have been displaced. Up to 1 million people will be affected by the operation in Mosul, and will become IDPs. HBAID is looking into possible assistance programs in the medical field and in the IDP and refugee situation.

As a first step members of the HBAID delegation are in the region to conduct prior assessments in order to understand the situation on the ground better and to meet with officials and possible partner organizations. The aim of these meetings is to find out what help could be efficiently offered by HBAID in the near future.

Anna Szenczy (IDHA 45, MIHA) and Sandor Horvath (IDHA 47) were members of the HBAID delegation.

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Alumni Update: Andy McElroy (IDHA 16, IDHA Lecturer)

Andy McElroy’s (IDHA 16, IDHA Lecturer) latest article for the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), “Thailand’s ‘Madam Disaster champions risk reduction,” features disaster risk reduction journalist Ms. Darin Klong Ugkara’s message to move her media colleagues beyond “simply describing events and instead help their audiences better protect themselves from various hazards.”

 

 

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Alumni Update: Andy McElroy (IDHA 16, IDHA Lecturer)

Andy McElroy (IDHA 12, IDHA Lecturer) recently posted an article entitled “Typhoon Haiyan memory spurs ARISE commitment,” which talks about UNISDR’s Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies (ARISE) network in the Philippines. UNISDR’s ARISE was established a year ago to encourage public-private partnership and achieve the aims of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. In the case of the Philippines, ARISE announced its commitment to strengthen partnerships in order to reduce disaster risk.

 

 

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Alumni Update: Pau Vidal, S.J. (IDHA 43)

Pau Vidal, S.J. (IDHA 43) of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) mission in Maban, South Sudan, has recently launched a new initiative: a monthly newsletter. The newsletter aims to update team members, supporters, donors, and friends on their current activities ranging from leadership workshops for youth, to vocational skills training programs for women.

 

 

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Alumni Update: Andy McElroy (IDHA 16, IDHA Lecturer)

Andy McElroy’s (IDHA 16, IDHA Lecturer) latest articles for the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR)  include “India hosts Asian Ministerial Conference,” which discusses an upcoming inauguration for the Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR 2016) and  “Indian businesses to launch DRR fund,” which talks about the Secretary-General of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) Dr. A. Didar Singh’s call to “businesses, governments and donor agencies to establish a US$100 million Global United Fund for Disaster Risk Reduction.”

 

 

 

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