“We can do many things from home”
By Elizabeth Millership
Photo: WFP / Emma Wadland
“We can do many things from home," says Mohamedou Ndiath – ETC Coordinator for the Central African Republic. He speaks to us from his home in Paris where he arrived this week, after sprinting through Bangui airport to secure one of the 10 remaining plane seats that would take him to his family amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Worldwide, the COVID-19 pandemic has gradually seen borders close and travel brought to a standstill. In the days leading up to his flight, Mohamedou was anxious about the encroaching travel restrictions. “Every day I was checking on flight radar to see if the flights to Paris were cancelled”.
Now safely working from the city he has called home for the last four years, Mohamedou reflects on the hair-raising journey and points out that others were not so lucky: “I pushed down my celebration at getting a seat – I saw people from neighbouring countries unable to get home”. On arrival, the empty streets of Paris also came as a shock. France – which recorded the first COVID-19 case in Europe – is one of the top 10 countries to experience cases of the virus. It is for this reason Mohamedou felt the call to return to his wife and four children.
His family are familiar with the sight of Mohamedou working from home – he does so often and finds it straightforward in a world of online technology platforms and instant messaging apps. Having been the Coordinator for the ETC in CAR for nearly three years, Mohamedou also knows the operation and the needs on the ground inside out. He has been dedicated to the humanitarian cause – and to the ETC – since 2010 when he was first deployed to support the Cluster in Haiti. Since then, he has supported the ETC during Niger’s food crisis, during conflict in the Ivory Coast, in Mali and finally in CAR. “Being part of several top-level emergencies and providing services to the entire humanitarian community as a person with IT skills motivated me to join the ETC. When I was called to be the ETC Coordinator in Bangui, I was head of IT infrastructure at a private bank in Paris. I immediately resigned”, Mohamedou says with his characteristic chuckle.
For now, Mohamedou will coordinate the ETC’s response in CAR from his kitchen table. As he has proven – a lot can be done from home.