World Vision Somalia
Blog • Wednesday, March 6th 2019

Best Food Assistance Manager - 2018

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Interview with Phillip Ndekei, Food Assistance Manager-World Vision Somalia

Location

Somalia
SO

Philip Ndekei,  Manager – Food & Cash Assistance–Operations

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS CAREER? 

I’m very passionate about serving the vulnerable in the society. I have an education background and served as a high school teacher. I developed a heart to care for and make peoples’ lives better. I saw how people struggle to make ends meet, and especially those that are marginalized and in hard to reach areas and had a desire to help make their lives better.

DESCRIBE YOUR CAREER YEARS AT WV

I have served in World Vision for the last 12 years. 10 years in World Vision Kenya and 2 years now at World Vision Somalia. Within the period of the 12 years, I served in different roles in emergency response and development sector. 8 of these years I was privileged to work in emergencies,  handling food and cash assistance. 

While still in college, I did my industrial attachment at World Vision’s Area Development Programme (ADP) in Laikipia and that’s how I got to learn about World Vision. It was interesting to know World Vision’s goals perfectly aligned  with my life’s purpose. 

After graduating from college, I was lucky to get a one-year contract with World Vision to respond to drought. When my contract ended, I joined the teaching profession for 5 years before a window of opportunity opened again in World Vision.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE WV ORGANIZATION CULTURE? 

World Vision has a very rich caring culture, and this is one of the reasons that has kept me here so long. Despite having a lot of work, people are genuinely concerned about the well-being of their colleagues.

HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR TEAM ENGAGED AND MOTIVATED? 

I operate an open-door policy and make it very clear to my team that I’m reachable and approachable at any time. In case they are having difficulties in any area of their life, they do not have to let it boil inside of them, but I encourage them to share with others because the solution may be with the immediate next person. 

I also encourage the spirit of teamwork. Teamwork increases efficiency, The ability to focus different minds on the same problem increases efficiency. When a team is able to work well together, they accomplish more than an individual can do alone. 

Not only do I encourage sharing our challenges, but also our strengths, I encourage my team to find a perfect balance between work and people we care for and not be so absorbed with work to the detriment of their health and other important relationships

ONE LESSON YOU’VE LEARNT THE HARD WAY FROM YOUR FIELDWORK? HOW DID YOU TACKLE IT? 

In 2017, Somalia was hit hard by a severe drought. During this period there were so many people who were in urgent need of assistance and the numbers kept growing.

As one of the organizations responding, we had to scale up our operations to meet the growing needs.  

Internally we had our set of challenges, we had policies and procedures which were not fast enough to respond to the drought situation. 

Another challenge during that period was resources. It was very worrying to see the number of people that required assistance constantly grow, yet the resources were not enough to meet this demand. I would like to say that the World Vision Somalia leadership team and World Vision East Africa region disaster management team were very supportive and finally their efforts helped us secure more funds to respond effectively and timely. Not even once did we turn down an opportunity to respond because of resources.

  

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE OPPORTUNITIES THAT YOU WOULD ADVISE STAFF TO TAP INTO IN ORDER TO GROW IN THE HUMANITARIAN WORK? 

The nature of work in NGOs is very demanding, however we need to create time for our personal self-development, socially and career-wise. 

Some of the opportunities I can recommend staff to tap into are the many online courses offered by World Vision. Create time to attend these courses as they will leave you better and increase your value. 

Another advice is to get some quality time to bond with people in the same field/profession and get to exchange ideas.

WHICH WV LEADER GREATLY IMPACTED YOUR CAREER AND VALUES? WHY AND HOW? 

I would say the founder of World Vision, Bob Pierce. Bob dedicated his life to performing selfless acts some which were; helping those who suffered from diseases, starvation, and malnutrition. During my induction to World Vision I remember reading about his famous quote “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God” and since then it has never escaped my mind. God did not create us to suffer, but unfortunately that’s the reality that surrounds us everywhere. Some of these sufferings are natural calamities and some are man-made either way it still touches the heart of God. God expects us to move and give a helping hand and warm heart of love to those who are suffering. 

YOU WERE VOTED AS BEST FOOD ASSISTANCE MANAGER OF THE YEAR 2018, CAN YOU PLEASE TELL US ABOUT THIS EXPERIENCE 

This was a very humbling experience, I honestly did not expect it! Looking at the challenges we went through in Somalia we did not expect it at all, especially knowing how competitive the process was.

The award event was held in Manilla, I remember sharing the table with South Sudan and Zimbabwe office who were scooping awards after another and displaying them on the table. When it reached time to announce ‘Food Assistance Manager of the Year 2018’, there was too much tension, we were invited to the floor to dance a bit to least neutralize the tension. 

After we got back to our seats and settle down I was finally called and given the award. To date I’m still humbled and motivated to do more despite all the challenges we face as Somali office.

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 5 YEARS? OR WHAT ARE YOUR CAREER GOALS? 

I thought maybe in the next five years I would be retiring, but I feel like I have just started! I’m looking forward to being a Disaster Management Advisor, this is because of the vast experience that I have gained throughout my years of service. 

God willing 5 years from now I will want to see myself in that level, hopefully with World Vision.