Fatima, DVM, minor in Sociology, Mines Action Canada, Lebanon: Landmines Resource Center at the Faculty of Health Sciences of the University of Balamand (LMRC), Program Support Officer
While our world hit pause in March and we all sat at home, others worldwide still had to worry about putting a meal on the table and finding a place to sleep at night. The pandemic for these people was not their top priority because they have seen harsh days and even harsher nights. The need for humanitarian support merely increased during these trying times.
I always hoped to be able to take part in an international internship to help make change in the world. Doing so virtually was never something I though was a possibility. Nonetheless, 2020 has proven to be a year where there is no norm but rather a year to adapt to constant change. Doing my international internship virtually was simply another time where adapting was necessary.
I was partnered through Mines Action Canada with the Landmines Resource Center at the Faculty of Health Sciences of the University of Balamand, an assignment I was beyond excited to receive as I have Lebanese roots. The group at Balamand does assistance and awareness work on the existing dangers of mines in the country. This work carries high importance in Lebanon as the toll on victims of mines continues to grow with mines, hand held grenades, and such remainders from the war, and, spills from neighbouring Syria, remain a large threat to people. The team has also adapted into making COVID-19 related materials to help raise awareness and minimize the spread.
Starting off the internship was especially challenging with the team having lost their offices in the Beirut port explosion that had occurred on August 4th. The ramifications the team faced hindered out ability to have constant and effective communication. This also pushed them to skip the formal training an intern would usually receive and immediately assign me with projects.
The big and continuous project I have been working on is the DCA MVA project that provide mine victims with resources to assist them with reaching a stage of being self-sufficient. Many services were provided ranging from scholarships, financial assistance, psychosocial support, and providing the means to open a small business such as chicken farming. With the country also suffering an economic crisis, there are many layers to continue exploring to help make this project a success.
Although working virtually on such large-scale project is not the ideal, one thing I have learned through this placement thus far is that you are never too far away to help and help comes in many forms. Looking forward to continue learning through this placement and I am glad the internship remained a possibility during these challenging times.