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Q&A with communications aid worker Nicole Robicheau

Red Cross Talks: Hi Nicole! Tell us a little about yourself.

Nicole: I have a background in journalism, but I became involved with humanitarian work for the Red Cross in 2010. 

Red Cross Talks: What does a communications aid worker do?

Nicole: There is always a need for communication, that's extremely important in any emergency. As a communications aid worker, I share stories of what's happening on the ground with Canadians back home. We know that it’s extremely important to get stories of the impact of disasters on vulnerable communities in the media. This has a direct impact on potential donors. This is especially true of smaller disasters, where there may not be journalists present on the ground to tell the story.

The other important role of a communications delegate is ensuring that communities affected by disasters also have access to communication. It's important for them to know what services humanitarian organizations are there to provide, what they can expect, what their rights are, so a communications delegate would support this kind of work also. 

Red Cross Talks: Tell us about your most recent mission?

Nicole: My most recent mission was three days in Costa Rica to monitor how assistance provided by the Red Cross during floods last year had an impact on affected communities. I travelled with local colleagues from the Costa Rican Red Cross and International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies into three affected communities and spoke to community members and local staff from Red Cross branches. The aim was to capture lessons learned to inform future emergency response operations. 

Red Cross Talks: What was a big challenge you faced during this mission?

Nicole: I think the biggest challenge for me was that my Spanish isn't as good as I would like it to be! So I had to rely on a colleague to translate. The other challenge is always a lack of time. Although we did manage to do a lot in three days, of course a longer time frame would allow more visits. 

Red Cross Talks: What do you love about humanitarian work?

Nicole: One of my favourite parts of this kind of work is to be able to meet up with my colleagues at other Red Cross societies throughout the world and share experiences and learn from each other. I also love being able to go into communities and see how the Red Cross is able to support communities through difficult times.

I know that many Canadians donate to the Red Cross, and I think it's important for people to know that this has a direct impact on people's lives. I see it each time I go into communities that the Red Cross supports.

As Canadians we happen to have been born and raised in a pretty safe place, I feel we have the duty to help those who through no fault of their own are living in precarious situations. People do this in many ways whether it's donating to the Red Cross, or volunteering their time in their own communities. Doing this work is my way of giving back. 

Learn more about the work of Canadian humanitarians, and how you can get involved with the Canadian Red Cross. 
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