Aine is going with the flow in South Sudan

Limerick woman Aine Fay who is Concern Worldwide Director for South Sudan.

LIMERICK woman Aine Fay is this year spending Christmas in East Africa ensuring life-saving work continues where millions of people have fled conflict and climate-related disasters.

Aine, from Bedford Row, is the recently appointed country director in South Sudan with international aid organisation Concern Worldwide, who she has worked with since 1983.

The veteran humanitarian has worked in many difficult environments and been part of emergency responses in countries like Bangladesh, Uganda, after the Rwandan genocide in 1994, Haiti, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Indonesia and Pakistan.

A trained nurse, Aine is also a former President of Concern Worldwide’s operation in the US, where it has offices in New York and Chicago.

During her 36-years with Concern, Aine spent many Christmases overseas and while she said everyone misses their families at home, they get on with their jobs and try to think of it as a normal day.

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“If work needs to continue then we just dig in and do it,” Aine explained.

“Depending on where we are and how many of us are around, we may try to have a meal together and it is great when we can do that.

“I do miss my family over Christmas, the big crowd, too much food, lots of fun and all the memories that are made, but we have to think of it as just one day.”

Aine also points out that in many of the 25 countries where Concern works today, Christmas isn’t widely celebrated.

“In Ireland, I would generally spend Christmas in Limerick with family, but I’ve been in countries where Christmas is celebrated and in many where it hardly features on the calendar. I go with the flow of where I am,” she said.

“This is the first time I’ll be in South Sudan for Christmas, which is celebrated here. It sounds very similar to the way we celebrate it in Ireland with church, food, family and drinks. Sharing of food with those in need is also part of it.”

Aine is leading a team of 400 Concern aid workers in South Sudan, including 28 expatriate staff and three from Ireland. Her team are focused on treating children suffering from malnutrition and providing temporary shelter in displacement camps, good hygiene, drinking water and sanitation and helping residents whose livelihoods have been destroyed to grow their own food.

Concern asks people who want to support their work or to donate to visit or to call 1850 410 510.