Tell us how you got in to humanitarian work:
By nature, engineering can be quite straight-forward and logical, and after university, I yearned for adventure. I had no intention of settling straight in to a nice office job in the city, so instead I took a placement with Engineers Without Borders in Rwanda.
I was quite well-travelled, but the rural and isolated reality of Rwanda was definitely a culture shock. This was my first experience of the humanitarian world, and it prompted me to continue my studies, this time with a PhD in Water-Supply Options for Post-Emergency Recovery.
When Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar in 2008, I conducted an initial assessment within the Laputta Township in the Ayeyarwaddy Delta, and have since have worked with various NGOs globally.
What is your motivation for supporting RedR?
I’ve been in the field a number of times, and RedR has invariably been a presence there.
My first real use of RedR in the field was in Haiti, soon after the earthquake. When I first arrived, the understanding of the security situation was that it was a relatively safe environment. That changed rapidly. My organisation found there was merit in all of our staff having security training. RedR provided that in-country, on-site, with very good understanding of the situation.
It was a very relevant course, and a practical reminder of the difficulties we were living in at the time, and it led me to better appreciate the life-saving benefits of humanitarian training.
Why did you want to become a RedR member?
There are very few bodies out there that provide any form of accreditation for relief workers. RedR is perhaps one of the best known and best respected in the industry.
After seven years in the emergency sector, I felt it was time to focus on becoming a professional engineer. However, I didn’t want all that experience to be forgotten or ignored now that I was joining the UK industry. (Andre is now working as a design engineer with Tony Gee.)
I wanted to acknowledge my continued involvement in this sector, and I wanted to be recognised as having achieved a certain level of expertise in WASH.
RedR was the body I wanted to provide me with that recognition.
Can you tell us about being part of a company that is a RedR Corporate Partner?
RedR are the main organisation that we support. We hold regular fundraising activities, including our “Monthly muftiday”, where everybody pays a small fee to come in to work in the comfort of our own clothes. We hold regular quiz nights and raffles, and we participate in Wear Red for RedR.
We even had a disaster relief challenge in the office, in a scenario that had been set up by RedR. People joined together in teams to design a refugee camp. RedR phoned in to provide on-site guidance and new information to guide us through the challenge.
Everyone got involved and really enjoyed it. Not only was it a learning experience and an insight in to the work RedR carries out, it was also an excellent team-building exercise.
Tony Gee really wants to support non-profits' activities.This year they gave me a month to go to respond the South Sudan refugee crisis. As a company, they do whatever they can to support the humanitarian industry and organisations like RedR, including being a technical resource for the RedR Technical Support Service.
I really think it’s important that there are companies out there like Tony Gee who provide this practical support as well as fundraising, and would highly recommend that other companies consider following their lead.
Photo: Andre working in Kitgum, Uganda during the LRA conflict © Andre Steele