/ / The Other Side


Andreane Tampubolon, or Anne as she is known to her colleagues and friends, works with the Indonesian Red Cross Restoring Family Links (RFL) team. As the head of the RFL team within the Disaster Management Unit, Anne has been engaged in the organisation for more than 10 years, providing her with a rich variety of experiences and engagements across the international disaster management sector. Anne has also contributed as a facilitator in the AHA Centre Executive (ACE) Programme, and has been deployed as an ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT) member to regional disasters including the 2015 Myanmar floods, the 2016 earthquake in Aceh, Indonesia, and the recent Greater Jakarta floods, also in Indonesia. Anne also holds many deployments directly as part of the Red Cross.

For this article we engaged Anne with questions on a variety of areas related to disaster management, and her responses and ideas were interesting and full of understanding.

What has been your greatest challenge in responding to disaster on a regional level?
Identifying, utilising and sharing information across language barriers is a significant challenge through all my experiences. For example, immediate responders are the ones who often have the greatest knowledge of the situation and how to handle it. However, it can be a challenge to share this knowledge from partners from other countries. In terms of challenge, I often find that we may need to have more field personnel with managerial skill. But, with many knowledge management skills available, it should also enhance the capacity of field personnel. Our field officer partners sometimes has difficulties to share their experience with a wider audience. This can have an effect on the knowledge transfer in the field and back to higher levels, as field responders often hold significant insights and experiences that should be raised with all other parties.

What challenges do you see related to disaster coordination in the region?
It can be a challenge to ensure aligned understandings between the support we are providing and the expectations of our recipients. This can be particularly heightened during disaster responses and requires strong communication, mutual understanding and personal approach.

What are some of the cross-cutting challenges you have faced?
Gender balance in teams deployed for fieldwork remains a challenge, I think. For example, I have previously been deployed in a team of 10 individuals and I was the only woman. However, I have previously been deployed in a team of four with three of those team members being women, so there is scope for better balance. This issue needs further attention in our region as it can have an impact on the work – whether we realise it or not.

With so many deployments, you are clearly used to working intensively in the field. What are your self-care tips for handling stress and pressure?
I fully believe it is best to make sure that you are able to take care of yourself before you attempt to take care of others in a disaster situation. This is a significant part of preparation for field deployment, and people have different ways of ensuring they are ready, as well as how they maintain their health in the field. I personally like to ensure I have a little downtime wherever I go and have some light entertainment to enjoy while I rest. In a technological world, having movies to watch or music to listen to is quite easy, and this is what I do to enjoy my down time when I can get some.

As you’ve been engaged in the ACE Programme, what do you see as the importance and meaning of good leadership?
Being a good leader means knowing the strengths and weakness of people that I work alongside and making sure that I do my best to identify gaps, weaknesses and room for improvement in a team. It is also important to work with people to improve people to lessen their weaknesses and increase their strengths. Being a good leader is also not just telling people what to do but working with them to achieve the goals.

So, what would you like to remind readers about in relation to the humanitarian sector?
I would remind everyone that being a humanitarian worker means you must remember to be a human. We can’t just work through systems and by protocols alone, but we must use our empathy and remember that we all are humans, and don’t forget to keep in mind to enjoy every process. There might be ups and downs in every operation. Not necessary with the good intention to help the process will then be smooth all the way. Yet manage the expectation and try the best you can to achieve the objectives accordingly


Written by : Ina Rachmawati | Photo : Private Collection