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Aid workers share insights from frontlines

Two Red Cross aid workers shared their insights from this year's crisis hotspots with supporters in Brisbane

Tuesday May 26, 2015

Aid workers Barbara McMaster and Steve Barton with Kevin Keefe, Queensland Red Cross Executive Director, at the Brisbane forum.

Two dedicated Red Cross aid workers shared moving personal stories from their experiences on the frontlines delivering aid in some of the world's crisis hotspots, with an audience of Red Cross supporters in Brisbane.  

Aid workers Steve Barton and Barbara McMaster provided a rare glimpse into what humanitarian aid work looks like, from behind the frontlines, helping some of the most marginalised and vulnerable people on the planet, and supporting the programs of local Red Cross and Red Crescent societies.  

When Cyclone Pam ripped through Vanuatu, tearing whole villages apart, Red Cross shelter specialist Steve Barton was one of the first aid workers on the ground, helping people rebuild their homes and their lives.  

Barbara McMaster has recently returned from working at an Ebola treatment centre in Sierra Leone. Her career as an aid worker includes delivering emergency health care in Yemen, Afghanistan, and Lebanon.  

"I was anxious about going to Sierra Leone, but I'm so pleased that I did help with the response. Of course it was terribly sad, but there were positive sides to that as well….it was easier to work there and do my job than watch reports on television," Barbara said.  

"In our lives here we have so much that we take for granted, and people in other places are so needy…it was on my first mission that I fully appreciated just how needy other people are.  I have skills that I can use, so that's why I've continued," said Barbara.  

In the Q&A session that followed their presentations, both Steve and Barbara shared valuable insights into what drives a person to take on some of the most challenging jobs, and what makes them go back. Guests also gained valuable insights and advice about becoming an aid worker.