Our People in the Field
Every day, our staff work tirelessly to turn our mission and vision into reality. take a minute to meet some of them.
Meet Khalid Sheikh, an Information Technology (IT) officer currently based at our headquarters in Nairobi, but with stories and experiences gathered from his tenure working in field offices throughout Somalia.
Tell us about your journey at Adeso, let’s start from the beginning.
I joined Adeso, or rather Horn Relief at the time, as an IT officer in Puntland, initially based in Badhan.
Horn Relief rebranded to Adeso in 2012. When then did you join the organization?
(Laughs at my question) I joined the organization in 2010 at a time when we only had two offices in Puntland, Somalia. I was initially based in Badhan but then also provided IT support to the Bosaso office. I was roaming. When the organization opened the Galckayo, Garowe and Mogadishu offices I was involved in their set up. I also roamed, offering IT support to all five offices when issues arose.
Was it difficult working in the environment or was it a non- issue for you?
You know, I did not grow up in Somalia, but Bosaso in my opinion is one of the hottest places on this earth! The temperatures would at times rise close to fifty degrees Celsius. But the good thing was that at the end of it all, we were helping people. And even though I was working in the background, I was offering IT support to the staff who were directly interacting with these communities. This made me feel lie I was contributing towards helping communities who had problems bigger than my discomfort due to the heat.
Inspiring! Apart from the temperature, are there any other challenges you faced in your line of work?
(Appears to be in deep thought) I remember the day a colleague passed away after an attack while in the line of duty. It shocked me because I was with him just a few days before the incident. He was escorting a cash transfer team and they together with the hawala (Money Transfer Operators) team were attacked in transit. Unfortunately he lost his life.
Didn’t the experience ruffle you and make you want to come back home to Kenya?
No! It made me more determined. At first, I was in shock and fear. However, I knew that there was more work to be done to change people’s lives. We as humanitarians cannot down our tools and leave.
You seem to be connected to field activities, yet one would think that your IT duties confine you to the office. Did you ever visit project field sites with other staff?
Yes, definitely. Although my work was not at field level, I sometimes went with the field teams and the experience was just humbling. I saw hope being restored to communities. I met women whose lives were becoming better through training in skills like cooking, tie and dye…I realized that in that local setting in rural Somalia, women depend on their husbands for everything and cannot have a vision beyond what their husbands dictate.
The training empowered these women. They could fend for themselves, add onto what their husbands brought home, look after their children better, it was encouraging.
There is this village in particular, Mindigale. Some years ago, the place was unpassable whenever it rained. Even project activities were affected during rainy seasons. There were deep gulleys that looked more like valleys. It was a painful sight. Over the years, our environmental restoration activities in the area (for example building of gulleys) have borne fruit. Though the roads are not up to standard, they are at least passable – we are heading in the right direction. The surrounding area, which was just full of loose sand, has now become a grazing land with lots of trees and shrubs.
Tell us a bit about IT for Development.
IT improves the efficiency of development and humanitarian activities in many ways such as early warning systems, disaster predictions, managing of data important in development activities, reporting, analyzing information and many more uses.
One day in the future I hope to teach IT to children in rural Somalia at a young age and also help integrate IT into the formal education system. Imagine the wonders that will happen if our young innovative children are empowered with IT skills to code solutions for their everyday problems.