When humanitarian assistance pays off, dangerous risks are easier to take on, says Sonia Khush, a senior director for humanitarian response for Washington-based Save the Children. She cites Save the Children programs that allowed displaced Syrian children living in tents to return to classes or play in a new gymnasium.
“I go ahead because through all these emergencies, I’ve been able to see what a positive impact our programs have on children,” Khush says. “That’s very rewarding. I usually end up being willing to take the chance and go. But …there are probably places where I wouldn’t want to go.”
“You have to see what the needs of the people are and what you can deliver,” she says. “You have to think on your feet very quickly and, for me, I just enjoy that pace of work. We’re really driven by ending human suffering.”
It’s also necessary to pace the work, she says. Save the Children cycles workers out of troubled areas every six weeks.
Khush, who is single, says when someone doing the same work is kidnapped, “you keep thinking, ‘OK, I’m doing everything I possibly can to be safe.’ I know there’s a known element of risk. But I’m here for a reason.”