I never imagined myself coming out of the theatre stage, complete with the lights and the sounds of musical instruments and take a 160-degree-turn towards a life of serving in the frontline of World Vision’s humanitarian work from Lebanon, Kurdistan Region of Iraq and now Moldova for World Vision’s Ukraine Crisis Response (UCR).
I completed my degree in business administration in Lebanon and found a job abroad in a major construction and petroleum company. On the side, I was also did what I love - an entertainer and a singer.
My humanitarian life started by chance when I returned home. The Syrian crisis was brewing, and an influx of refugees started entering the country. I saw a lot of desperation, suffering and need. But I was particularly moved by the children’s plight.
It was then that I joined the World Vision team in 2012 in the Bekaa Valley distributing food vouchers and in-kind assistance. I realized it was what I wanted to do – and I can see that the need was urgent.
When the crisis in Iraq started in 2014, the response team requested for my deployment because of my experience in food and cash assistance program. The initial plan was to stay for three months in Iraq, but I ended up staying and working for seven years.
It gives me inspiration and motivation that I am part of making a difference in the lives of children in-need, because I also see my children in every displaced child.
With a very hardworking and proactive team, I was able to develop, grow, expand the program and put a good system for the cash-for-food interventions for the internally displaced Iraqis and the Syrian refugees in the Kurdistan Region in Iraq.
From Iraq, I was deployed to join to World Vision’s Ukraine Crisis Response on March 2022. I was so happy to contribute in establishing the Moldova operations and build a committed team actively responding to the needs of the Ukrainian refugees in Moldova and the host communities.
Ten years after joining World Vision, I consider myself blessed to serve and use my skills as a humanitarian leader. I am very passionate with whatever I do and I am enjoying the opportunity to serve the people who had to flee their homes because of the ongoing crisis.
The big difference between my work in the past for private companies or my work as a singer and my current work now in World Vision is bringing positive change by helping people directly.
As Operations Director for UCR’s Moldova operations, it gives me inspiration and motivation that I am part of making a difference in the lives of children in-need, because I also see my children in every displaced child.
By Youssef Mhanna, Operations Director, Moldova, Ukraine Crisis Response