By Braden Spratt IPED ’22
During the summer of 2021, I interned with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. I joined the team tasked with the emergency response to the damage caused by the hurricanes Eta and Iota. These hurricanes hit Honduras in November of 2020 and left many people unhoused, ruined crops, and caused flooding that destroyed many homes. The project work is funded by USAID and works in repairing water systems, providing multipurpose cash assistance, and reconstructing damaged homes. The damage was compounded by the COVID 19 pandemic, which has contributed to economic issues in the country.
As part of my internship, I assisted the Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning (MEAL) team in executing their tasks. The first time I went into the field, I assisted with focus groups in two different communities. Beneficiaries shared their experiences and offered their feedback to CRS. While chatting with some of the community members, they showed me the water lines where the floods reached during the storms.
Also with the MEAL team, I assisted in writing a survey to gather feedback about one of the project sector activities. Then, the team and I spent three days in the field gathering responses from over 40 beneficiaries. We learned about the successes of the program as well as received feedback so programming could be improved in future initiatives. Participating in MEAL programming with CRS showed me how relief projects must confront the reality on the ground and adjust programming when unforeseen complications occur.
This internship gave me insight into the work humanitarian relief organizations do and the complex foreign aid system. I am thankful for this unique opportunity that IPED was able to assist me in pursuing.