Voices from the Field: Tom
Tom, REACH GIS Officer in Iraq
Geographic information really excites me, which is an odd choice of excitement. Nevertheless I found a natural home working for the REACH Initiative. I wanted to work with intense, exciting projects and here in Iraq I found just that. In coming to the mission I wanted to apply the skills I had learnt in geographic information to something worthwhile and satisfying, not another desk job in another office. I do something actually quite simple, making maps, but within REACH the possibilities and impact of the work I produce as part of a country team are immeasurable.
Every day I see the work of REACH digested by the global humanitarian community. This colossal machine composed of myriad organizations all trying to work together to better desperate conditions is incredibly humbling. Working with, observing and attempting to quantify the impact of this global, multi-billion dollar machine of humanitarian at times seems like a daunting and insurmountable challenge. Product by product though, from simple camp maps to multi sector needs assessments; REACH chips away, attempting to improve response. Maps play a crucial part in this and however small my own part I still feel part of an organization that does good.
Living and working in Iraq has given me an opportunity to see a complex region’s morale threatened by conflict and fear. It also showed the resilience and strength of those who faced the threat. This is something that is evident on a daily basis and subtly challenges your own outlook on life. Alongside this I was lucky and proud to work with a team who passionately care and constantly strive to produce greater and better ways to inform humanitarian action. The same team would gather together for dinner at night, caring for each other as a family, growing together as a single unit. This is why, however tired, I am always excited to get out of bed in the morning and make maps.