In profile: CARE Canada’s Ally Crofton

CARE staff's time, dedication and passion for their work is what has truly led to lasting change for millions living in poverty.

Here is one of many inspiring CARE Canada staff members we'd like to introduce you to – Ally Crofton. Ally is a Program and Gender Officer for both CARE’s Humanitarian Assistance & Emergencies Team (HAET) and Women's Economic Empowerment team. She shares her passion for her job and what has inspired her to continue to do the work that she does.

1. What is your role at CARE Canada?

I am the Program and Gender Officer for both CARE Canada’s Humanitarian Assistance and Emergency Team and the Women’s Economic Empowerment Unit.

What this means is I support the project management of both emergency work, so helping people get life-saving supplies in a humanitarian situation such as after an earthquake or to those fleeing violence, and longer-term development projects in the area of women’s economic empowerment. That means helping ensure women have access to banks and loans, an income and can build an independent and sustainable future for themselves.

My team and I work hard to ensure we’re developing high quality programming that will have the biggest impact possible on the individuals – mostly women and girls – and communities that we seek to work with. The projects that I focus on now are mostly in South Asia and Africa, but in my time at CARE I’ve worked on projects across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

The ‘gender’ part of my title means that I focus on ensuring that gender is a top priority in our programming, whether that be in making sure that women’s voices are heard in their communities, that women have access to equal opportunities or working with teams to built their capacity in gender.

2. What do you enjoy most about your job?

The variety! As the ‘bridge’ between emergency and development work, I have the unique opportunity to understand how CARE meets both immediate, life-saving needs and how we work after a crisis or emergency situation to build resilient, thriving communities.

Working with colleagues from around the world is also a huge privilege as I feel like I am always learning something new about a different culture and a different way of life. At the same time, it is amazing to see just how much we all have in common no matter where we live or what we do. Meeting and working with people who are so passionate about improving their country and their community is a tremendous source of inspiration.

3. What are the biggest challenges (perhaps not necessarily in your role, but in terms of the biggest challenges our sector faces)?

Two things come to mind – the level of need across the globe, and the need to work together with local organizations. The dire humanitarian situations in Iraq, Syria, South Sudan, and Yemen – just to name a few – coupled with extreme drought across so much of sub-Saharan Africa, and continued insecurity in Afghanistan, mean that we are now in a situation of unprecedented global humanitarian need that has yet to be matched with adequate funding. Whether it be humanitarian or development programming, if we want to strengthen communities and enable them to strengthen themselves, we need to be supporting grassroots efforts and local organizations in the countries we work in. This also ensures that our approaches are culturally appropriate and sustainable.

4. What do you think makes CARE different from other international development and humanitarian aid organizations?

CARE’s focus on women and girls and gender equality is a huge reason why I wanted to work for CARE. The commitment to quality programming means a consistent focus on putting women and girls – who really are the faces of poverty – front and centre. CARE understands the need to challenge the root causes of poverty (gender inequality), rather than applying band-aid solutions.

5. Can you tell us about one particular project, trip, etc. that made a significant impact on you and why?

In 2016, I travelled to Kupang in Indonesia to facilitate a capacity-building training and visit a project that was supporting female pig farmers to develop and improve their small-scale pig farms and to market their products in more profitable and innovative ways. Meeting with the women in the communities and hearing them talk about the businesses they were running and how the project had improved their lives really reminded me of how passionate our colleagues are and how hard they work to make sure projects succeed. The women farmers themselves were also so appreciative of CARE’s support – they even offered me a small piglet!

6. Which country/region have you not travelled to but would like to? Why?

I’ve been there briefly, but I would love to spend more time in the Middle East! The people are warm and welcoming, and the food is delicious. The entire region has a fascinating history and culture that I would love to learn more about.

7. What is one thing you want Canadians to know about the work you/CARE do/does?

CARE’s work is about empowering women and supporting communities to survive in a crisis and to recover, rebuild and thrive in the aftermath. There are certainly times when I feel removed from the communities we work with and seek to empower when I’m sitting at my desk in front of a computer, but I just have to stop and think about the stories of change and of the women I’ve encountered in my travels to remember the value of our work and to be thankful for the generosity of Canadians in making this world a better place.