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Off the top of my head, in 2020 we managed to help between 5-6 000 families to have a roof over their heads again. In Niger, this corresponds to around 50-60,000 people, including at least 30,000 children. To have succeeded in helping these people makes me proud of our work in the field.Max Steffen
It was during the end-of-year holidays that we had the pleasure of talking to Max Steffen who has been working in Niger as Project Coordinator for the International Aid of the Luxembourg Red Cross since September 2020. Extremely motivated by the tangible impact that the projects have on the local population, he shared anecdotes from his daily life with us, as well as his motivations and the security issues that complicate his job day in day out. He also underlined the importance of the means made available to local projects through donations and other support from Luxembourg.
Talk us through a typical day in the life of a Luxembourg Red Cross expatriate in Niger? Does it consist of flying solo or teamwork? How are the projects structured?
It goes without saying that there is a difference between going to the office here in Luxembourg and working in the field in the Sahel region in Africa. What is it like to experience it first-hand? What is the impact of political events or natural disasters on the Luxembourg Red Cross’ International Aid projects?
What is the Luxembourg Red Cross’ International Aid?
In 1989, the Luxembourg Red Cross created the “Aide Internationale de la Croix-Rouge Luxembourgeoise asbl (AICRL)” to implement and professionalise its international humanitarian activities with the financial support of national and international donors.
The Luxembourg Red Cross stands in solidarity with the most vulnerable throughout the world. Our humanitarian teams from the International Aid department can be deployed in emergencies to support people affected by conflicts, natural or man-made disasters. Currently, our international humanitarian projects include solutions for the protection of vulnerable populations as well as environmental projects.
The African continent is home to some of the poorest countries in the world. The humanitarian needs are enormous, particularly in the countries of the Sahelian strip, which are affected by drought, food insecurity and armed conflict. Coastal areas are affected by storms and cyclones. These phenomena are exacerbated by global warming, making the populations even more vulnerable. Threatened by bad weather and deprived of subsistence resources, they are forced to flee.
The communities selected are “the most vulnerable households amongst the already very vulnerable populations”: large families, single women with children, the elderly, heads of household who are ill or who have a disability, etc. These populations are mostly found in rural regions with very fragile dwellings and in remote and areas that are difficult to access without any assistance. These vulnerable populations are:
What are the responsibilities of a coordinator in Niger? How can you prepare for it? Max shares how you can try to best prepare for a posting in Africa, but as soon as the plane lands you know that everything will be different.
Every morning, an expatriate based in Africa will be eager to listen to the radio and hear what new crises or disasters will once again influence their work and the projects of the entire team, and of course the daily life of the local people. Every day they are confronted with new challenges that need to be taken up and managed. How do you stay motivated? How to do everything possible to help the people who need your help the most?
What does Max hope that 2021 will have in store? How does he see International Aid projects evolving? How can we help and support him from Luxembourg?
What makes Max Steffen proud? Where does he see the real impact of the International Aid of the Luxembourg Red Cross?