Guest blog post by Danika Ellson about her experience working at CARE Canada. Danika is an EDC employee who has been working for CARE as part of a partnership program established between our two organizations.
Four years ago, Export Development Canada (EDC) and CARE Canada signed a partnership agreement that would volunteer four EDC staff a year to various posts within CARE. This agreement comes out of a bigger initiative for EDC to be a leader in corporate social responsibility, and demonstrate their commitment to supporting the communities in which we live and work. This year, I got my opportunity to apply for one of the positions.
But first – I had to test my own interest and resilience, and so I joined the CARE Canada Walk In Her Shoes campaign. Together with a fantastic group of women at EDC, we raised over $1,000, and I got my first (very!) small taste of what life in a developing country is like. I naively thought, 8,000 steps, how hard could it be? Eight days and 64,000 steps later, I had sore feet and a crushed ego from seeing far too many +50’s passing me. I realized just how lucky I am to live where I do. Yes, it was time to do something to share my good fortune with others.
The position I was qualified to do at CARE did not take me to any foreign countries. At first I thought, “Really? What can I do from here in Ottawa?” I had no idea what I was about to get myself in to! I was placed with an amazing group of people in the international programs team. This team is full of the “humanitarian superheroes” you read of. They leave their family for weeks at a time, go to dangerous locations, work through their vacations, and sleep very little. To support the team and their busy schedules, I was brought in to answer some important questions like, “How can we constantly improve what we’re doing?” and “How can we increase our efficiency and improve the lives of even more people?” Similarly to what I do at EDC, I analyze information. I streamline existing tools, and create new ones to collect even more information. Finally I put it all in a nice organized package for the team to learn from and use in the future to become more efficient in their work.
So, what has little ol’ me done to assist CARE in helping all those people overseas from here in Ottawa?
I’ve helped women be recognized as human beings with human rights.
I’ve helped children get fed.
I’ve helped communities get access to clean water.
I’ve helped women, children, and communities get access to education.
As CARE Canada CEO Kevin McCort said to me on one of my first days here, it doesn’t take too many steps from any position in this organization to really feel the impact of what CARE does. A little filing, a little organization, a lot of passion, and very little sleep, really does go a long way.