Red Cross aid worker Eboukele Aka had his first overseas mission with the Red Cross two years ago in Afghanistan. A pharmacist by trade, Eboukele was based in Kandahar with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Working in a hospital for war-wounded, Eboukele was able to deliver medicines to those most urgently in need, helping to save lives.
Despite the challenges and security issues, he says he enjoyed the mission so much that he extended his original contract there from the initial 6 months to 16 months.
"I was attached to the people I worked with, they were so open and ready to help despite the security situation they were living in," he said. "I was inspired by the people because they were dedicated to helping their own people. This pushed me to do more."
Having returned from Kandahar to his home base in Toronto, Eboukele reached out to the Canadian Red Cross. He was a successful applicant to work as a Red Cross delegate with the organization's new Emergency Response Unit (ERU). Supported by the Government of Canada's First Responder Initiative, the ERU is a field hospital that can be deployed from Canada within 48 hours in times of international disaster.
The ERU is staffed with healthcare workers (including surgeons and nurses), logistics experts, technicians, communicators and administrators. And, of course, every hospital needs a pharmacist.
Eboukele's career in pharmacy began in the Ivory Coast. He completed his Master's degree in France and his PhD in Japan.
"As a pharmacist, you don't always see the impact you make from day to day," he said. "In the field you feel like every action you take is needed right away and you can see the people you are helping."