Becky Chandler recognized by international relief organization
Posted July 22--“Many parents told us they had assumed their child had died in the earthquake, and when we bring that child back to them, it’s as if we’re bringing their child back from the dead. It’s an incredible feeling.”
Woodstock native Becky Chandler, who works for the International Rescue Committee, found great satisfaction in reuniting Haitian children with their families after January’s earthquake.
Although that reward is likely sufficient for Chandler, the IRC recently announced she will receive its Sarlo Foundation Award for Distinguished Humanitarian Service.
She and four other IRC staff members — “a handful of the most stellar,” according to IRC President George Rupp — will be presented with the award in San Francisco in October.
The IRC works in 40 countries, providing resettlement support following emergencies. Chandler has been with the organization for five years, most recently as coordinator for Child & Youth Protection and Development.
She served in Afghanistan before traveling to Haiti, where she spent about four months.
Chandler was at home in Woodstock for a few days this week before her next assignment. She said the award was a “huge surprise.”
She described her work in Haiti:
“When I arrived we were getting reports from hospitals of children who had been rushed in for medical care and when it was time for them to be released, no one knew where their families were,” she said. “Doctors and nurses assumed a lot of these children were orphans, which was incorrect. IRC was the first agency to start training non-governmental agencies on how to trace and reunify children with their families and because of this effort, we (all the agencies we trained) have reunited more than 390 parents with their children.”
In announcing the awards in a press release late last month, Rupp said, “Becky’s work, her endless commitment, her drive, and her selflessness reveal themselves in her manner. If you were to ask her why this program is so successful, she would say it's because of the incredible Haitian staff members who work so diligently for their own country. When journalists come to cover the program, she is the first one to push her staff in front to highlight their work, their stories, and their success.
“Seven weeks after her arrival in Haiti, the IRC had 10 child friendly spaces up and running, 10 more on the way, a team of almost 20 trained caseworkers with 20 more on the way, a functioning family-tracing-and-reunification training program, 100 additional interagency case workers trained, a coordinated database, standardized interagency tracing and reunification processes to be used across the country, two functional tracing and reunification sub-hubs in Port au Prince’s most damaged and affected areas, and plans to do more.”
Chandler and the other awardees will designate an IRC program to be awarded a $2,500 grant in their name.
After a two-week vacation in England, Chandler goes next to the Democratic Republic of Congo, where she will be based.
She is the daughter of Jim and Jane Chandler of Woodstock.