Giving back feels close to home

By Angela Hill

When Dr. Mausam Bohara arrived in Bangladesh to work with people fleeing violence in Myanmar, she was happy to find Canadian Red Cross medical teams already on the ground.
Portrait picture of Dr. Mausam“To find them here is a really amazing thing to see,” said the health coordinator for the Nepal Red Cross, who goes by Dr. Mausam.
“I feel a part of the team already because I have worked with so many of the team leaders back in Nepal. It will be a big learning opportunity again.”

She first started working alongside the Canadian Red Cross as part of the Nepal Earthquake response in 2015, but her relationship with the Canadians continued long after the emergency phase ended.
“I have been working with them ever since because of bilateral development programs Red Cross has in Nepal,” she said. “I think it has been a good partnership in terms of the health systems strengthening … a lot of capacity building the Canadian Red Cross has with the Nepal Red Cross Society.”
Dr. Mausam arrived on the ground in Bangladesh as the surge health lead for the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies in November. She believes having strong regional leaders is an important piece to disaster response.
“Regional deployments are great … because of greater understanding of the context,” she said.
The Red Cross is doing more of these, with the focus on sending out the right people, with the right skillset, in the right place.
“I feel the welcoming attitudes from the host communities and host national societies, ‘you are from the region, you understand the context, you look similar, you eat similar kinds of food,’ so there is a connection that is easier to develop.”
Dr. Mausam said being from the region makes it easier for emergency response workers like her to adapt to the emergency situation. And she will also take back what she’s learned from this response to her own local Red Cross.
“I think there is a lot of other understanding also in terms of working culture, country context, politics. It really keeps us all connected.”

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