Inbal Alon - Kenya/Uganda
Inbal Alon was an intern with the Madrasa Resource Center in Tanzania. Currently, she is a program officer for our Orphans and Vulnerable Children Programs with the Bantwana Initiative Uganda. As part of her job, she manages administrative, financial, and technical issues regarding projects in Uganda.
I was born in Canada to Israeli parents who were students in Ottawa. We went back to Israel when I was very young and I spent my childhood there. When I was in high school, we moved to Boston. I returned to Canada for a Bachelor of Public Affairs and Policy Management at the Arthur Kroeger College at Carleton University. During my studies, I volunteered in Ghana with a women's empowerment group. In 2005, I received a fellowship from Aga Khan Foundation Canada and travelled to Zanzibar, Tanzania, to work on an early childhood education project called the Madrasa Resource Centre. From there, I moved to Western Tanzania and worked on a health education program with the Tanzanian Red Cross Society in Lugufu Refugee Camp. I returned to Boston in 2006 for a Master' s in International Education Policy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Most recently, I have worked in northern Uganda, with an organization called Windle Trust, on a secondary education program for war-affected youth.
An interview with Inbal
1. What drew you to the field of international development?
I think that at some point, at a younger age, I realized that I enjoyed interacting with people in a way that was helpful. They help you and you help them. For a long time, I didn’t know what that meant in terms of a profession. I thought I wanted to be an artist, and then a doctor. Then, at an event I learned about international relations and got interested.
2. What is the most satisfying aspect of your work?
Because of Canada’s experience, which is not unique, Canada has an important role to play in sharing its experiences, both positive and negative – in helping to adapt the model of a pluralistic society to other contexts.
But what is most satisfying is to enjoy the small victories. If you have trained a group of businesswomen, or set up a pre-school, they are small initiatives and make a difference in the day-to-day lives of people. So I enjoy the moments when I have worked with communities and colleagues, and got the feeling that something good was happening. You learn to savour those moments.
3. The most challenging?
I did a bit of humanitarian work. There is this concept of “do no harm,” especially in war or disaster areas. You have to be careful that you are assisting people but not harming anyone. You have to be critical of yourself and the programs, even if they are good programs.
4. What is your most memorable experience?
Some of the workshops we did in Lugufu with the young girls. I realized the education of children in conflict areas is really important for me. It brings together the empathy I have toward people in conflict, the passion for youth and young children, and my interest in education. That really crystallized for me. And also taught me that when you work with communities, we want to listen to what they have to say. Youth are the same. If we work with them and listen to them we can empower them to change.
5. Do you think Canada has a unique role to play in the world of international development?
I think Canada has done some great work in international development,but I would like to see that we continue to set an example and takea more progressive lead. If Canada can keep to its commitment toincrease foreign aid to 0.7 %, we would be setting an example forother countries that we take our commitments seriously. I think we still have a very good reputation in the world. And even though we are smaller than other countries, people listen when we really commit ourselves to the issues.