Get to Know Our Staff: Nasser Ferej
Meet Nasser! We are lucky to have Nasser on staff at Splash’s Ethiopia office, where he serves as the program strategy and reporting manager.
We connected with Nasser to ask him some questions about his work, background, and joys. Read below for his answers!
Q: What excites you the most about Splash?
The staff at Splash is uniquely composed in terms of qualifications, skills, experience, and professional ethics. People at Splash love their jobs and are committed toward serving the kids in need. I have worked in a couple of organizations, including international NGOs, but this team is very exciting to work with. Employees are champions of their work — they work under minimal supervision, work hard to meet deadlines, and thrive despite work-related risks and logistical constraints. In many organizations, conflicts are common, and you see that work-related challenges become personal. It is exciting and equally motivating to see a conflict, which barely occurs at Splash, solved in a civilized and professional manner through discussion, respect, and mutual understanding.
Q: What keeps you inspired during challenging times?
The most inspiring thing during challenging times for me, without doubt, is faith in God and a strong belief that everything is out of our control. There are some verses from the Qur’an that have powerful messages to uplift my mood. “Verily, with hardship, there is relief.” “If you indeed be thankful, I will bestow more (favors) on you, but if you are ungrateful, (you will find that) My punishment is of course most severe.” Sometimes we do not know the outcome of something, and that is why we are overwhelmed by some challenges that may turn out to be positive. Perhaps we hate a thing while it is good for us, and we love a thing while it is bad for us. I also feel motivated when I think of and have time with my immediate family — my wife and son — my extended family, colleagues, and friends. Counting our blessings, letting go of bad feelings, and listening to motivational videos have also positive returns.
Q: What work are you most proud of in 2020?
Despite the high risks of the virus, COVID-19 incidents at the office, and station supply chain issues, there was an effective accomplishment of water supply work at many schools for Project WISE. I am proud of the different initiatives made by our team, like preparation of different design options, direct procurement of materials, use of mixed approach for construction/installation, engineering modifications, increase of the contractor pool, cost saving initiatives, and piloting of improved concrete water stations.
Q: What brought you to Splash, and what keeps you here?
When I see people trying to tackle poverty, expecting nothing in return, I forget all the worldly problems and envision a better life, an equal world for all humans and equitable share of resources. My life fills with joy and enthusiasm when I see people who fight and cross the limits; people who do the impossible and dare to stop unfairness; people who live inside others; people whose happiness lies in the happiness of others. This inspired me to join and stay in the humanitarian sector.
As a child, I used to go to public schools similar to the ones where Splash is intervening to improve their WASH conditions. Though the magnitude varies, most schools in Ethiopia have a basic problem: poor WASH facilities and services. We are in 2021 and still children die due to diarrhea globally, the main causes being unsafe water and poor hygiene. Every child has the right to health, and kids deserve to learn in a conducive environment where they can thrive and perform, they become healthy and happy, and their potential can be unleashed. They should not be in a school with poor WASH that robs them of their basic rights. I came here to contribute to tackling school WASH problems. The smile I add to the faces of the kids and my daily interaction with the amazing team keeps me here.
Q: If you could tell Splash supporters one thing about your team or your work, what would it be?
I would love to tell them that Splash’s goal of 100% coverage in big cities, as a model for others to replicate, is a unique approach compared to the scattered implementation of projects across diverse geographies, which is common in most humanitarian organizations. I would also tell them that a 50% government co-funded project, which Splash is implementing through Project WISE, is a rare and exciting opportunity for local adoption and long-lasting solutions.
Q: What’s your favorite game to play with your family?
Card games like Solitaire or rummy.
Q: Karaoke song of choice?
Adele’s “Hello” and Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds (Don’t Worry).”
Q: Favorite food and drink?
Favorite food fried: chicken and “ጥብስ” (fried meat).
Favorite drink: clean water.
Q: Coffee or tea? How do you take it?
I take both. I always drink a cup of tea in the morning while eating my breakfast. I usually take a cup of coffee at the office late in the morning. I do not drink machine made coffee, but I love a coffee prepared by “Jebena,” a traditional Ethiopian coffee pot made of clay. We usually have coffee ceremonies over the weekends especially Sundays and sometimes neighbors and relatives join the ceremonies.
Q: Are you a morning or night person?
I am neither a morning nor a night person, though I slightly incline towards night person. I usually wake up around 7 a.m. and go to bed around 11 p.m.
Q: Finish this sentence: When I was young, I wanted to be…
… an urbanite. I grew up in a small town 1000 km from the capital, Addis Ababa. My father is a businessman. When I was a child, he used to visit Addis frequently to bring fabrics for sale. We were accustomed to clothes, shoes, books, and foodstuffs that he used to bring from Addis. This has ignited my interest to envision living in the capital. During that time, my mother was living in Saudi Arabia and was coming to Ethiopia every 3–4 years. Once upon a time, while I was in primary school, my mother came to Addis, and she told my older brother and me that we should come to Addis as she had not had enough time to visit us in our hometown. We flew by airplane to the capital and got the thrilling opportunity to visit Addis. These were the reasons that triggered me to live in a metropolis. Now, I am living the dream of my childhood.