By Wynter Carl
This summer, along with the LISA scholarship, I had the opportunity to work as a Pathways Intern with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). I worked with the Office of Field and Response Operations (FARO) in the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA). In 2020, Food for Peace and the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance were merged together to form BHA. Taken from the USAID website, BHA provides, “life-saving humanitarian assistance—including food, water, shelter, emergency healthcare, sanitation and hygiene, and critical nutrition services— to the world’s most vulnerable and hardest-to-reach people.” It responds to both natural disasters, as well as complex emergencies all over the world.
Within FARO, I worked with the Civil-Military Response Operations Division (CMD), where I got to see the complexity of the military aiding in humanitarian assistance operations. The Disaster Assistance Response Teams (DARTs) are deployed once a Disaster Declaration has been made. The DARTs are disaster experts and they work with local communities and officials, the international community, and relief agencies to distribute emergency relief supplies. BHA concerns itself with getting communities to what they were just prior to an emergency. Working with other USAID offices, BHA provides assistance before and after emergencies with disaster risk reduction and early recovery programs as countries regain their self-reliance.
At the beginning of the internship, I got the chance to have virtual informational one-on-ones with staff from each command team in CMD, as well as different areas of BHA, such as emergency programming, mapping, and gender, age and social inclusion. Then, I got plugged into the Africa Command team, AFRICOM, where I attended meetings, took notes, and had the opportunity to ask questions. Apart from administrative tasks, I got the chance to write a research paper throughout the summer on Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) in the African Union specifically. I learned so much this summer through meetings, research, as well as online trainings. I got to watch recorded, and attend live, webinars that were both educational as well as personal, with interviews and anecdotes with past and current employees at BHA, formerly OFDA. I was really lucky to have such a great supervisor, as well as work alongside another intern, even if it was just virtually! The Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance internship was a great opportunity and I hope to work with them again one day.