Your support of Master's of Arts in Humanitarian Assistance students, gives mid career international aid workers, like Rachael, the skills needed to reach those in the most vulnerable situations.
In the winter of 2012, Rachael Ameyo Were, N14, was in Mogadishu, Somalia, assessing relief needs after a severe drought that had displaced thousands of homeless and hungry Somalians to the streets. As she walked through the scattered informal settlements of the city, she was startled by a paradox: side by side coexisted a bustling modern economy and a destitute population in slum-like conditions. She couldn’t help but ask, “Are we doing this right?”
Were grew up in Kenya, where she dedicated more than eight years working in international relief and development aid programming. She also spent a few years as a teacher in Somalia for SOS Children’s Villages, a nonprofit that promotes childcare, health, education, and children’s rights in developing countries.
Were knows that slums are unfortunately common in cities and towns in Somalia and elsewhere, but she began to wonder about the missing urban poor in the wider relief aid architecture. “There is not only a great disparity in cities between the extremely poor and the middle-class and wealthy, there is a great disparity in relief aid between urban and rural areas,” she says.
When populations are displaced into urban areas, like the Somalians in Mogadishu after the drought, the situation creates what Were calls an “urban vulnerability” for both the displaced people and poor residents. The conditions—close quarters, lack of state authority and basic supplies like food and water, and limited income opportunities—breed desperation that could help fuel violence. Were’s long-term goal is to improve programming in these urban areas to ensure that it reflects the realities on the ground.
Her Master of Arts in Humanitarian Assistance (MAHA), a dual degree from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, is allowing her to bridge the gaps between the practice and theory of humanitarian aid programming. She plans to bring her expert knowledge and solutions back to the field after graduation.
While the MAHA program offers critical development opportunities for individuals like Were, the cost of tuition often stops many prospective students from enrolling. This makes financial assistance all the more meaningful. For all of the financial aid that helped make it possible for Were to be at Tufts, including support through the Henry J. Leir Fellows Program at MAHA, she says thank you. “I’ve met some wonderful people and been exposed to different ways of learning which I know will be extremely useful."
Champion: Cristiana Falcone Sorrell, F01, N01, Friedman School Board of Advisors