Raising A Family In A Humanitarian Disaster Zone
A CTG team member shares her experience of balancing work and family in a conflict-affected country
CTG always works to make a difference and has a presence in Sudan recruiting and managing teams for humanitarian roles. I work for CTG, but I’m also a mother and my family is here with me in one of the world’s harshest environments. Many would consider this the last place you would want to raise children and try to lead a ‘normal’ family life. However, I consider myself lucky.
My husband also works in international relief efforts and that means we have moved around the globe. We came to Sudan as a family with our seven year old and I was fortunate to be introduced to CTG; they were willing to be flexible and work around school hours and school holidays, as long as the job was done.
I am happy to be working and also glad to spend precious time with my son and be there for him. In my work I help manage more than 160 employees who are providing critical support to vulnerable people in Sudan. My role was to set up an efficient office in the country to support the recruitment programme for the relief effort in Darfur. We employ people for some of the world’s largest aid agencies and this office provides all the support they need to do their jobs effectively and safely.
Raising a family and making a difference
Every day is different, but the big challenge is that I’m determined to lead a full family life despite living in a unique environment. Coming to Sudan has meant we can be a family again as for three years before moving here my husband worked away from us.
It can be tough. It is extremely hot – usually between 40-50 degrees – and most of the roads are dirt roads. The capital is littered with rubbish and unfinished buildings and there is little in the way of amenities.
Supermarkets have very limited options. We can only usually get okra and aubergines in terms of vegetables and the meat is risky as most animals live off the plastic and rubbish that lies everywhere. When we do go home we have to bring back vegetables, cheese and fish to make sure we have a balanced diet.
Despite this, we can be a family and that is what is most important. I’ve worked in a number of sectors in multiple countries around the world and my desire to work was no different when we moved to Sudan.
Trusted to balance work and family
Time spent with my child goes by so quickly and I would never give it up. In this situation there aren’t that many people who can provide assistance in caring for children. This is a challenging location, but I get the support I need to deliver as both an employee and as a mother.
Luckily, I have the time to make sure we can still lead a rich and fulfilling family life. We do this by making sure we can still take part in the activities every family around the world enjoys. For example, the schools here offer nothing in the way of sport for the children so we make sure we arrange these sorts of activities ourselves. We also work hard to fill any other gaps in education, teaching our children key lessons.
We also try to take part in ‘normal’ family activities. We go camping on the Nile with friends or take day trips to temples and pyramids. We’ve also joined a hotel so we can use the swimming pool or enjoy brunches or playdates with others in a similar situation.
Like many others, we also make sure we leave Sudan in holidays and half-terms to get some time out and enjoy our time together. All of this is possible because CTG understands our situation and supports us to balance work and family.
It is a young, dynamic company and many of the team have families of their own so they understand what needs to happen. Crucially, they also visit the countries and different environments so they all know what we have to face on a daily basis.
Finding a positive work/life balance can be challenging for most people around the world but it can be even trickier to do that in an environment like this. Yes, the landscape is tough but we are still able to lead a happy family life.
Much can be learned from this approach to supporting working families in these situations. I felt it was important to do something that makes a difference and I’m fortunate to be supporting the relief effort in Sudan while still having the time and space to care for my child and play a major role in their life.
*For security reasons, our blogger remains anonymous.