"I feel privileged to work for ZOA”

After several years as a Country Director in Liberia, Chris MacLullich joined ZOA’s team in Ethiopia. “Compared to other organisations I’ve worked in, ZOA values the autonomy of Country Offices. This allows agility and responsiveness as we can move quickly, without too many bureaucratic hurdles.”

Ethiopia is changing rapidly. Significant political changes are vibing the country while in several parts, big challenges and crises are to overcome. ZOA Ethiopia aims to support refugees in several parts of the country. Chris MacLullich, based in Addis Ababa, is head of operations.

You are working for ZOA for several years now. How do you like it?

“I feel privileged to work for ZOA. From the beginning, I found colleagues with huge amounts of energy and commitment to respond to people in the most difficult situations. When I arrived in Liberia the team had just been through some tough times when Ebola struck, but there was still a great spirit to do more. In Ethiopia, the team genuinely do heroic work on a daily basis, in really challenging and dangerous places, responding to complex crises. They do this with a lot of skill and with the dignity of the people they serve at the forefront of their minds. It is great to be inspired by my colleagues.”

There are hundreds of NGOs based in Ethiopia; what makes ZOA different?

“ZOA has a culture of ‘rolling your sleeves up and getting the job done’- this attitude seems to be in ZOA’s DNA and I think people feel this responsiveness, energy and commitment. We’ve been in Ethiopia for 25 years, doing our best to keep an active presence in conflict prone places where there are few other NGOs, and this wins the support of communities and local government, and means that our teams have an intimate knowledge of the conflict dynamics in each area. Our commitment to sticking with people after a crisis, to help them get back on their feet again makes our approach to humanitarian responses different – we are already thinking about the long term well being and resilience of people we work with.

Our commitment to sticking with people after a crisis, to help them get back on their feet again makes our approach to humanitarian responses different - we are already thinking about the long term well being and resilience of people we work with.

There is a lot of discussion now about the ‘triple nexus’, that is, linking relief, development and peacebuilding. This has been central to ZOA’s approach in Ethiopia for a long time already and we continue to sharpen our approach to bring all of this together.”

How do you experience ZOA as an employer?

“Compared to other organisations I’ve worked in, ZOA values the autonomy of Country Offices. This allows agility and responsiveness as we can move quickly, without too many bureaucratic hurdles. I think this is great as it leads to a sense of ownership, pride and responsibility in the teams. However, over the last three years I have seen a shift towards building more unity and coherence in our approach and our systems, as well as in the level of interaction with colleagues in Apeldoorn. I also value this and believe that this closer working together enhances our work.  Also, as a family, we have always felt that ZOA was looking out for us, with genuine interest and concern for all of the family in both Liberia and Ethiopia.”

How do you and your team make a difference in Ethiopia?

 “Ethiopia is going through a time of great social and political change and there are massive challenges across the country, with conflict and the climate crisis causing constant internal displacement. Refugee numbers are still rising every day and levels of extreme poverty are among the highest in the world in rural areas. The demands are so high that we need to make good strategic choices and to make sure that our projects really deliver for the beneficiaries. In our work in WASH, livelihoods, energy, education and humanitarian responses, I hope that our strong emphasis on peacebuilding between refugees and host communities and between ethnic groups who are in conflict makes a lasting difference.

Why are you here?

There is nothing better than being able to work together in solidarity with people who need our help, seeing the transformations that happen.

ZOA helps people affected by conflict and natural disasters from relief to recovery. Chris MacLullich is part of a team of 900 ZOA-colleagues worldwide. Want to join our team of committed colleagues? Check the vacancies.