It is undeniable that the world is riddled with a series of problems – too many to count. There are countless organisations out there working to tackle these issues to right some of the many imbalances in our society. One of those charities is CARE, working across the globe to combat poverty, save lives and bring about social justice. 

I had the privilege of interviewing Nirvana Shawky, the Regional Director for CARE’s Middle East and North African region. Nirvana has over twenty years of experience in the Middle East across various domains, including academia, advocacy, and campaigning. Since 2018, Nirvana has been at the helm of global initiatives aimed at alleviating humanitarian crises in the MENA region, with emphasis on international humanitarianism and the safeguarding of civilians in conflict zones. As Regional Director, she manages programs in 11 countries, carrying responsibility for both humanitarian response and development.

I asked Nirvana that, as someone with extensive experience in advocacy and humanitarian work, what she believed to be the most pressing humanitarian challenges in the MENA region today. She stated that the underlying issue was the lack of funding for the cause, explaining that without the required financial support, it was ‘very difficult to provide aid for the various humanitarian needs.’

When asked about how CARE obtained the funding, Nirvana then voiced the complexity of the process, explaining how it is influenced by the specific issue being addressed at the fundraising market. In our current era, government budgets worldwide have been stretched thin due to factors like the COVID-19 pandemic; many organisations were affected, with CARE being one of them. UK governments have slashed their budgets for international humanitarian work, losing their title as the 2nd highest contributor and falling into fourth. 

Despite these challenges, Nirvana and CARE have notched some key successes in the region. One notable achievement is Resolution 2165, which provides access for humanitarian aid to conflict-affected areas. This resolution plays a pivotal role in allowing organisations like CARE to deliver assistance where it's needed most. In 2014, this resolution was a key reference for how humanitarian aid could overcome international and political hurdles to focus on the needs of the people.

If people are forced to evacuate their homes, the UN would provide shelter, clean water, medical help and food without needing government permission. It was about more than just money – it was about planning and strategy.

Nirvana Shawky's journey from academia to journalism to leading global humanitarian efforts is a testament to the adaptability and dedication required in this challenging field. As the MENA region faces ever-evolving challenges, her leadership remains essential in addressing the pressing humanitarian needs of those affected by conflicts and crises. Through CARE, we are able to right some of the many wrongs in the world. And if we succeed in that, we are already on the right path to fixing the deep-rooted issues of our society, bringing us one step closer to a more compassionate, equitable, and harmonious world for all.