What they bring with them

August 18, 2016
Written by Kristin Myers
Photo by Kieran McConville

Our aid workers travel frequently to the field to respond to emergencies around the globe. But could you guess which items always make it into their suitcase?

This World Humanitarian Day, we’re celebrating four of our amazing field staff and finding out a bit about the humans inside these dedicated humanitarians.

Being an aid worker can be a difficult and dangerous job. They leave the comfort and safety of their homes to respond to emergencies and challenging situations all around the world. So when they have to travel — often at a moment’s notice — each of them has a couple things they always, always pack. And those items might surprise you…

Reka Sztopa

Reka Sztopa, Acting Country Director, Central African Republic

Reka Sztopa, Acting Country Director, Central African Republic

Reka never leaves home without her coffee press. “After 10 years as a humanitarian aid worker, instant coffee just doesn’t cut it anymore,” she says. And who is that cute little guy on her hand? “That’s my lion puppet, Furry Friend, that I’ve had since I was five years old,” she explains. “He’s traveled all over the world with me.” Reka received Furry Friend after arriving in Canada as a refugee (from Hungary) — and she hasn’t let go of him since.

Subodh Vijapure

Subodh Vijapure, Emergency Programme Manager, Unity State, South Sudan

Subodh Vijapure, Emergency Program Manager

Subodh always leans on his trusty GPS to help him out when he is stuck out on the road and needs to tell people where he is. Despite his reliance on his GPS, he swears that he has a wonderful sense of direction.

Dan Otieno

Dan Otieno, Emergency Logistician, Sierra Leone

Dan Otieno, Emergency Logistician, Sierra Leone

Dan’s never without his kikoy, a traditional East African handmade cotton garment, similar to a sarong. Dan says it’s endlessly adaptable — an important feature when you have scarce space in your luggage — as it can function as a scarf, a wrap, beach or picnic blanket, or even headwear. “I never leave it behind when traveling overseas for assignments — it always serves me whether in warm or cold climates.”

Dom Hunt

Dom Hunt, Disaster Risk Management Advisor

Dom Hunt, Disaster Risk Management Advisor

Dom doesn’t have just one crucial item to stuff into his suitcase — he has a whole trusty kit! There’s the basics like his hat, his sunscreen, his water bag, and his builders’ trousers “festooned with pockets.” And like Reka, Dom never goes anywhere without his coffee filter in an insulated mug and a bag of decent coffee. Once perked up with caffeine, he relies on his Vibram FiveFingers (aka “toe shoes”) to help him dash from one site to the other. The game Cards Against Humanity helps liven up the evenings and break the ice with fellow humanitarians. And if you see Dom out in the field, he might let you borrow his copy of There You Go!, a picture book that explores the impact of sustainable development on traditional ways of life. He says it’s handy “to shake people up a little and make them think about what it is we do.”

Yes, keep me updated on Concern's work