How do we strike balance between professionalism and commitment? Faith-based groups often underline their commitment more than they do their professionalism, and compromise the quality of humanitarian action at times. How do we challenge this?

Senior Emergency Response Officer at CAFOD (Philippines)





Amjad Mohamed-Saleem
Answer posted: 8 August 2015

I think it depends on which faith-based organizations (FBOs) we are speaking about. Organizations such as CAFOD, Christian Aid, and others have succeeded in striking that balance with regards to professionalism and commitment.

The challenge is with the smaller international NGOs as well as with local organizations. Many of these do not have the resources to be able to become more professional.

I think that there is also a challenge for many FBOs who are stuck between focusing on the concept of charity and the costs for doing humanitarian work professionally. Many FBOs, particularly in times of conflict where humanitarian responses become very complex, need to move away from the notion of just doing humanitarian work as charity. Passion without purpose loses steam very quickly. They need to accept and understand that this is now a profession that demands all the quality, passion, and dedication that people of faith put into their work otherwise.

However, they should not mistake professionalization for secularization. One can still be professional and committed to their faith, i.e. marrying passion with purpose. That purpose means you have to do the best quality job for the people in need. Ultimately, it is an education process in order to change mindsets.

About the author

Amjad Mohamed-Saleem is a free-lance consultant from Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom and was born in Nigeria. In this capacity he has advised the Commonwealth Foundation, International Alert, among others. In this capacity, he also worked as the Head of Communications and manager of Conflicts Programme for the Cordoba Foundation. He has been country director of the NGO Muslim Aid in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. He has also worked in Myanmar, looking at the role the private sector could have in reaching people that humanitarian organizations have trouble reaching themselves, and on issues of peacebuilding and the role of faith in conflict reconciliation in Asia.

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