Profile of Passion
Name: Erin Joyce
Occupation: Child Protection Specialist
Company: World Vision is a worldwide community development organisation that provides short-term and long-term assistance to 100 million people worldwide (including 2.4 million children). World Vision has more than 45,000 staff working in 96 countries.
My parents started sponsoring children through World Vision the year that I was born. As I grew up in Melbourne, and later Singapore and the Netherlands, I was always aware of these sponsor children growing up in Ethiopia under very different conditions.
Some children have everything they need to grow and flourish and others don’t. This makes no sense at all to me in a world that has so much. This awareness drives me to improve the lives of children in developing countries.
When I was at university, I decided I’d like to work in the humanitarian sector and set out to join World Vision, which I saw as a leader in the field. As Australia’s biggest NGO I thought there would be great learning and development opportunities. Plus having read mail from our sponsor children, I felt like I knew the organization. I applied three times to the graduate program before I was successful.
I like World Vision’s focus on children. Supporting family systems and helping children reach their full potential has always been my thing.
It’s been an exciting and challenging seven years. I’ve worked in various conflict areas across South Sudan, Somalia, Niger, Mali and most recently Iraq. I lived in Sri Lanka for a year in 2011 supporting post conflict recovery work in the north with a focus on mental health and livelihood supports for young widows and their families.
My first deployment was to Haiti, after the devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake in 2010 which left over 200,000 dead. For me, the event was an eye-opener.
Haiti was my first exposure to a major humanitarian crisis and all the chaos and complexity that comes with it. This disaster taught me how to look through the Child Protection lens because no matter what’s going on, children will be impacted.
In the Middle East, I saw a different kind of need, with people fleeing violence in Iraq.
In Mosul, people are often university educated and leading middle class lifestyles, the family units are intact – it’s been a functional society, albeit a politically complex one. And then, with the onset of conflict, people’s lives are catapulted backwards and families are torn apart.
Last year I was working in World Vision’s Child Friendly Spaces in IDP (Internally Displaced Person) camps, helping children – some of whom arrived too terrified to speak — to learn how to play again.
What we know from humanitarian crises from around the world – not just the one occurring in Iraq – is that if children feel safe, if they have a routine in place, and if you create a sense of normality then most of them will recover naturally over time. At Zelican camp I saw children opening up, engaging with one another and inventing games.
Every trip I take deepens my understanding of humanitarian work.
As I learn more about these complexities, I see how we must tailor how we work to different contexts. What’s become clear to me is that to support countries and economies, we must invest in human beings from the very beginning of life.
If you would like to learn more about World Vision and Mosul, visit: Mosul Emergency
19/04/2017 / Kit Densley