2014 Humanitarian Hero Giano Libot
DUTY STATION: Philippines
POSITION: Communications with Communities
Giano originally worked in journalism, covering elections and political reporting and writing op-eds. “It was actually by mere accident I stumbled on humanitarian work,” he says.
Humanitarian work proved a constant revelation. “The communities you get to interact with have so many stories to tell that it becomes the ultimate human experience that spans different cultures and backgrounds,” he said. “Sometimes I write their stories, and some tell their own stories so wonderfully on their own.”
Giano has served in Bohol and Western Leyte in the Philippines. In his role with IOM, his biggest goal in communications is to develop communications strategies that benefit internally displaced persons (IDPs). He produces and translates materials and works on radio programmes that focus on community feedback.
Giano finds the work meaningful. “It doesn’t feel like it’s a job to be done; it feels like a mission,” he says.
“It’s definitely rewarding knowing you are trying to make a difference even in the smallest ways. When I heard the IDP leaders of Can-Untog (a camp in Western Leyte) discuss their ideals as a community, it was an amazing privilege to be there to facilitate their discussion. It was their ideas, their thoughts. And all I had to do was just allow them to speak out and communicate. The immersion in humanitarian work has given me memories I believe will last me for a lifetime.”
He works hard to try to develop a sense of ownership in communities, to help people realise aid workers are only there to facilitate changes the people must make for themselves.
The impact of his work started to dawn on him in his third week on the job, during the response to the Bohol earthquake in 2013. “There were rumours in the early months that the island was sinking due to 3,000 aftershocks. A lot of people believed these rumours, so we produced materials dispelling this myth. During our community forum, an elderly woman approached me and thanked me for giving her that simple piece of information. She said it saved her from needless worry and stress.”