In profile: CARE Canada's Evelyne Morin

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 – Evelyne Morin. Evelyne shares the joys, challenges and opportunities she sees every day working as a Program Officer with CARE Canada’s International Operations and Programs Unit.

CARE's Evelyne Morin with girls from the TEMPS project in Benin

I’m a Program Officer providing management support to our Food Security and Resilience to Climate Change and Women’s Economic Empowerment projects. I also support our country offices in the implementation of projects funded by Canadian (public and private) funds, and help develop project proposals to be submitted for Canadian funding.

The best part of my job is when I get to travel and work with the country office teams in person. Nothing replaces face to face interaction and collaboration for me. During these “field visits” I get to see how CARE’s teams have instilled strength and determination in women, girls, men and boys so they can lift themselves out of poverty. I do what I do for these people. Meeting them and hearing about how their lives have changed for the better and for the long-term is what inspires me in my work every day.

The biggest challenges

There are many challenges in the international development non-profit sector. We are always limited by the funding we are able to secure, which limits us in the number of people we are able to support, coupled with the overwhelming needs often found in the regions and countries we work in. To help mitigate the lack of funding and the huge need, in many cases, we partner with other international non-profit organizations in order to support more people. We partner with local organizations and public and private sector actors such as universities, corporations, etc. This allows us to share technical expertise and best practices which in turn allows us to help more people in a more comprehensive way.

It is often difficult to tackle all the root causes of poverty in a single project due to limited funding and lack of time. There is also a challenge when it comes to the humanitarian or emergency relief and development divide. Responding to humanitarian crises is critical to save lives in the immediate and short-term, but it is equally vital to provide support once after the crisis. In my opinion, after every emergency, it would be ideal if we could be able to secure funding for a long-term transition program.

What sets CARE apart?

I believe that CARE’s partnership approach (as opposed to direct implementation) is exceptional. We always work with local partners in order to transfer knowledge and skills to local groups that can then take over and better support their own societies. We also place a lot of effort in governance, hand in hand with local governments, as well as with many stakeholders (community leaders, public and private institutions, etc.) When leaders not only allow for change to take place but embrace and encourage it, more lives are improved.

CARE also has a very strong focus on gender equality as it has been proven that lasting change cannot happen without women and girls having the same voice – the same rights and privileges – as men and boys, such as education and access to financial services and opportunities.

The faces of change

My very first field trip with CARE was in Bolivia for the LINKAGES program, which worked to strengthen local economies, increase access to nutritious food and improve equality between women and men. The Tukuy Yanapana project was coming to an end and we visited the four rural municipalities where the project had taken place over the past four years. As in many developing countries, Bolivian women in rural regions in general don’t speak much in public, and when they do, they speak in a low voice and sit in the back of the room during meetings. What I witnessed during my visit was incredible. Women were empowered, taking the lead in their businesses and presenting their activities with confidence, pride and passion. This was a truly inspiring trip for me. I realized then that all my desk work reviewing countless reports during the past months in the office in Ottawa had value and was playing an important role for these people.

A second inspiring moment (among so many!) was when I visited the TEMPS project being implemented in Benin and Mali working to prevent child, early and forced marriage. As I’ve already mentioned, CARE, hand-in-hand with its partners, involves many different stakeholders in its projects, including many religious leaders who are guardians of traditional knowledge and practices. As much as we want to respect and uphold traditional values which are part of a culture’s identity, sometimes some practices can be harmful, such as the celebration of child, early and forced marriage. Biassoun Dembele (who works for one of CARE’s partner organizations in Mali), has been on the front lines of the implementation of the TEMPS project. Hearing Biassoun’s own testimony about witnessing a traditional leader sitting with young girls and boys to discuss sexuality and the importance of safe and responsible sexual behaviour was incredible. He never would have thought he would one day see this discussion taking place in a rural village. It was (and still is) a very meaningful moment for me.

Future opportunities

For me, every project, no matter where it is being implemented, is somewhere I would like to travel to. So far, I have had the chance to visit CARE projects and teams in Bolivia, Benin, Mali, Cuba and Guatemala. My next trip is planned to take place in September in Honduras.

I recently started supporting a project being implemented in the Philippines, which is helping to support reconstruction after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the country in 2013. I have heard about the very strong partnership approach of the staff in the Philippines office and I would love to meet the team and observe how they work and coordinate with their seventeen implementing partners!

Also, although I have traveled extensively in my life (professionally and personally), I have never been to a Middle Eastern country, nor a South Asian one. It would be very interesting to get a sense of the cultural aspects and ways of working in these countries.

What should Canadians know?

I want Canadians to know that, even if the number of emergencies and people in need seems overwhelming, any contribution does make a difference. CARE – thanks to your support – does change the lives of thousands of families around the world every year – families that unfortunately have less opportunities than Canadians, because of war, natural disasters, and more. Every life is worth fighting for. At the end of the day, we all want the same things: to be happy, healthy and safe and to be with our loved ones. In these times where a global culture of fear of the unknown are put forward by some media and politicians around the world, I’d like to urge Canadians to come back to the basics and reflect on understanding, empathy, respect and acceptance. Stay well-informed and get to know your neighbours better. Acknowledge and then work on eliminating your prejudices. At the very least, show tolerance. Cultural differences should not represent threat but rather, strength.