More Than a Band Aid

Anna Parsons works for World Vision. Her job takes her to some of the world’s poorest countries. Challenge spoke to Anna about her global job.

Challenge: What does your job involve?

Anna: I’m a programme manager at World Vision New Zealand. I oversee seven Area Development Projects (ADPs) in Tanzania and one in Myanmar.

I spend 12 weeks a year overseas. When visiting an ADP, I spend time with the local World Vision staff and meet with community groups.

When I’m not overseas, I work at World Vision’s national office. I organise funding for the ADPs and help them to plan their projects. Sometimes I arrange visits for people to meet their sponsored children and assist with other visits such as film crews making documentaries.

Challenge: Where have you travelled?

Anna: I go to Tanzania twice a year and once a year to Myanmar. I’ve also been to Rwanda, Uganda, East Timor, Georgia and Kenya.

Challenge: What are the best parts of your job?

Anna: I take pleasure in knowing that the help we are providing will be self-sustaining.

I love to see the pride that people in the local communities have in their projects. At one ADP, a farmer excitedly showed me his maize crop. World Vision provided him with seed for a new maize variety, which increased his crop yield from five bags of grain to 15 bags. He uses the profits from the sale of the grain to pay for school fees for his children and to invest in farm equipment such as a plough and oxen.

I enjoyed seeing a health centre built in one of the ADPs. When I visited, there was a queue of women and babies. I was happy to know that the women and babies are being cared for and that children are getting the vaccinations they need to stay healthy.

Challenge: How did you get your job?

Anna: I did a degree in food technology and a Masters degree in Development Studies. But people working in jobs such as mine come from lots of different backgrounds. For example, some of the others in my office were originally trained in teaching, forestry and agriculture.

Challenge: What type of person do you need to be for this job?

Anna: You have to be versatile. In one day I might be visiting a health centre to assess vaccination rates; meeting with a farmers’ group to discuss organic manures and new seed varieties; and talking to a business group about the repayment of loans.

Good health is important – travelling to these countries can take a physical toll on your body and you can easily catch serious diseases. It can be a very stressful job, so good support from friends, family and people at work is essential.

You also need a sense of hope and to be a positive person or you would get overwhelmed by the enormity of the need you see.

Based on the article by Heather Haylock