| Dorothy Morrissey
Desk Officer, ECHO (Humanitarian Aid DG), with responsibility for ECHO's disaster preparedness in Central America
Originally from Cherryorchard, Enniscorthy, Co Wexford.
About your job: We work with vulnerable communities in the most disaster-prone areas, to increase their capacity to cope with disasters, so that they can help themselves when a disaster strikes, and prepare for future events. This includes community organisation, arranging evacuation routes, shelters, training (e.g. in first aid, search and rescue) and awareness raising. Working with communities to empower them, and seeing the result of our work, as, when a disaster strikes, the communities we have worked with tell us they knew what to do, they didn't panic, and so, lives were saved. We have a constant interchange with the partners that implement the projects in the field with our financing - NGOs from all the Member States, including of course from Ireland, as well as the Red Cross, and UN agencies, and this is very enriching as they have the practical field knowledge and experience that complement that of our colleagues living and working in the field. Having the chance to work at the heart of Europe and knowing Europe is not only about money or procedures but also about solidarity and helping the most vulnerable. It is very good to know first hand that the European Union as a whole is the leading humanitarian aid donor in the world and to know the difference that this help can make to people's lives. Humanitarian crises are not just the large-scale highly mediatised ones, but also happen in middle income countries with big disparities between rich and poor; natural disasters affect the poor who are often living in perilous conditions, vulnerable to floods, landslides, who can lose everything in minutes once a disaster occurs. Sometimes these disasters are not even reported, so a constant challenge is to reach these people and raise awareness.
Why the EU? I started working in Luxembourg in the Commission's Publications Office, as that was my experience: after university, I started working in publications and teaching in Ireland. Then I moved to a position working on the Commission's development magazine, the ACP-EU Courier, which allowed me to combine two interests; journalism and development. I then moved to this post, as I wanted to gain hands-on experience of project management.
How do you think Ireland has benefited most from the EU? Membership enabled Ireland to become more outward looking, so it didn't just rely on relations with the UK. People are now aware of the opportunities that are available to them in Europe. Having access to a huge market enabled the economy to grow. EU support helped to develop the necessary conditions such as research, infrastructure, and the creation of a well-qualified workforce. Being in the EU also means that Ireland has a voice on a bigger stage.
Languages: English - mother tongue
French - I received an excellent foundation from the Mercy Convent in Enniscorthy, which gave me a good start when I came to Brussels. Then I perfected my level through practice and courses in the Commission.
Spanish - via courses in the Commission, and through practice and private classes.
Irish - in school, though unfortunately it has become a bit rusty
Books/Music: Although I read and listen to music a lot I cannot single out a clear favourite book or music album; my tastes are very broad and I appreciate many things. On the other hand, a particular film stands out for me; "The Leopard" by Luchino Visconti; I find it a poignant and powerful evocation of the passing of an era, as well as being a magnificently-made film with some unforgettable scenes.