What Does it Mean to be a Good Partner?
By: Sareema Husain
Disclaimer: The views are those of the author's alone and do not represent the views of UNA-Canada.
Hey there! My name is Sareema Husain, and I am currently working as a Junior Professional Consultant with the World Food Programme’s Regional Bureau located in Nairobi, Kenya, as part of the International Youth Internship Programme hosted by UNA-Canada. The 6-month internship is remote and I currently work from Ontario. Currently, Kenya is 7 hours ahead of Toronto which affects the flow of my day. I often have meetings starting from 8AM; I’m drinking coffee, just waking up while my managers are winding down at the end of their day. At first, it was difficult to adjust to this time difference, but I’ve gotten quite fond of the quiet afternoons where I am able to focus on work without any interruptions.
Map of Kenya, where JPC's office is located
The first few weeks of the role involved a lot of research and mapping. I searched the web for large organizations that could be potential funders for WFP’s School Feeding Programme in the East African region. Though funding needs are immediate and ever-growing, WFP also prioritizes strategic partnerships that bring together knowledge transfer and technical assistance. Beyond providing funds, there are a versatile number of ways enterprises can contribute to WFP’s humanitarian mandate, whether through advocacy, sponsoring research reports, joining policy coalitions, or sharing personnel, technology, and/or resources.
My background is in Media & Communications and consequently, I have held a few academic outreach roles in the past. But being able to support and facilitate collaborations that are cross-cultural and exist in a global context is another whole ballgame. Everyday, simply by sitting in on meetings and observing, I learn so much. The most critical thing I’ve learnt and am trying to adopt into my character are the characteristics of a good partner. Like in many aspects of life, being a good partner begins with empathy and trust. Admittedly, this is difficult to establish when remote but far from impossible.
Sustainable Development Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals
To build empathy and trust, one needs to be truthful, reliable, and flexible. This means being honest and taking pride in my work, but also being transparent about my shortcomings and where I need extra assistance. Furthermore, as expected in the world’s largest humanitarian organization, there is often bureaucratic red tape that can dull progress. In the Partnerships sector, we do our best to remain flexible and adaptive. This flexibility allows us to have different relationships depending on the people and context we are working with.
I am still discovering ways I can contribute as a remote intern, but my tasks have been steadily increasing as the internship continues and I am excited to keep learning. If I focus on being reliable, trustworthy, and flexible, I can ensure that I am well on my way to becoming a partner who is capable of facilitating valuable collaborations within a humanitarian organization.