Delivering aid to some of the world’s hardest to reach communities is no simple feat: it takes a team of dedicated aid workers and often several days of difficult travel that can include trucks, cars, boats, and motorbikes across muddy roads, rickety bridges, and barely-there footpaths. Before the journey can even begin, the cars and trucks need to start and work properly—aid workers can’t be worried about a breakdown along the way.
It’s a job easier said than done, and that’s why Action Against Hunger employs a trusty team of mechanics to keep our vehicles—and the lifesaving people and supplies they carry—in tip-top shape, safe and able to get where they’re needed. In South Sudan, Kidega Walter Erineo serves as our Roving Field Mechanic, bringing years of experience working with a range of international organizations and authorities, including USAID and the United Nations. Below, read and learn what it’s like to keep the engines going in South Sudan in our latest edition of our Humanitarians Against Hunger series.
What is a typical work day like for you?
Every morning, we start with the daily checks with drivers, tools, and inventories. I manage any breakdowns during trips to the field and advise drivers on the proper handling of vehicles and equipment. I handle the preparation and filing of job cards and monthly duties like maintenance plans and fleet reports. I work closely with our drivers, implementing capacity building initiatives and training drivers on the four-wheel drive system application and best practices in following speed limits, utilizing daily check lists, and radio communications.
A typical day is quite busy because of the constant need for functional cars to provide quality service to the communities where Action Against Hunger works. I also need to ensure that there is functioning electricity at the bases and head offices. These responsibilities require constant monitoring and a strong commitment to my work to overcome challenges on a daily basis.
What aspects of your job do you like most? Least?
I enjoy my job if the support I need is in place, such as availability of spare parts to overcome challenges. I enjoying working tirelessly to achieve quality results. I’ve loved each job in my career since I finished schooling. I love the ability to be creative when making modifications and discovering new technologies. The aspects that I like less are idleness on the job.
Tell us about your proudest professional moments.
My proudest professional moments are when I rescue grounded vehicles and bring them back functioning, for example when there are issues in the gear box, engine overhaul, or minor repairs. I’m also very proud of reducing the number of rental cars after fixing our own fleet. One time, I was faced with eleven grounded Action Against Hunger vehicles with major repair needs, including broken gear box cases, suspension system, steering system, brake system, etc. Through my efforts, I was able to bring all eleven vehicles back to the two bases.
What are the most important qualities for a humanitarian professional to possess?
You must be able to work in different cultural communities, withstand harsh environments, and be flexible. Most importantly, you must be willing to learn and have accountability.
What advice would you give to new humanitarian professionals?
My advice to anyone who is looking to build his or her career, the best place to be will be Action Against Hunger. You are given the chance to learn about the processes, procedures, and organizational behavior. You will learn how to get things done on time in an orderly and productive manner.
What are some significant changes you’ve seen during your time with Action Against Hunger?
Since joining Action Against Hunger, I have made improvements in the logistics department, especially with the fleet. When I joined, most of the vehicles and generators were grounded and not functional. Now, we have more functional vehicles and less rental vehicles for the delivery services to our beneficiaries. This improvement has created much more value for the organization and helps save program funds for service delivery.
What challenges are most pressing for the humanitarian sector?
The main challenges that face the humanitarian sector are national insecurity, ethnic clashes, and high commodity prices. Despite these challenges, humanitarian professionals will still deliver services to women, children, and the most vulnerable in affected communities.