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Mango members on Placement: Nick Roberts in Iraq with Tearfund

Nick Roberts has just finished his assignment as a Temporary Finance Manager with Tearfund, in Erbil, Iraq. We recently caught up with him and heard how he enjoyed living and working in the home of one of the world's oldest civilisations.

(Above) Some views of Erbil, Iraq, where Nick was based on his placement.

'I’ve recently come back from an assignment with Tearfund in Iraq, where I've been working in two short-term spells since June. I was filling the role of programme finance manager.  Tearfund had been without a finance manager for several months, and so their Head of Support Services (covering finance, HR and logistics) was very overworked.  My first task was to oversee an audit of two UN-funded projects, which had been scheduled at very short notice. The Jordanian firm conducting the audit carried out their work extremely rigorously, but the accounting records and supporting documentation were in good order, and the audit passed off quite smoothly.  Another key role was donor reporting, as we were juggling many different funding sources, each with their own reporting and auditing requirements.  In addition, the Kurdish Regional Authority had just introduced new financial reporting rules and also income tax for national staff working for NGOs.  We managed to get our returns filed with the authorities within the deadlines set, thereby avoiding financial penalties.  I also got involved with recruitment of a Senior Finance Officer. There were also a number of expatriate staffing gaps on the programme when I arrived, most of which have now been filled, so the team changed a great deal in a short space of time. 

'I was based at Tearfund's programme headquarters in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish Region of Iraq (KR-I) where several other INGOs are also based. Tearfund works in Kirkuk, Duhok and South of Mosul. Tearfund began working in Duhok back in 2014 and has continued to expand to respond to the ongoing crisis.

'Not only had I worked for Tearfund before, I had also been in Iraq before, as for the last 18 months or so I have been working with another charity, based in the KR-I’s second city, Sulaymaniah.  But this was was my first time in Erbil.  It is an interesting city, home to one of the world’s oldest civilisations (over 5,000 years old), and it's citadel is a world heritage site.  In the summer the climate is very dry and extremely hot at 50°C, making it without a doubt the hottest place I’ve ever lived!  It appears to be marketing itself as the next Dubai, and high rise buildings are going up all over the place. 

'Tearfund is an international NGO, focused on ending poverty. It has a very diverse programme in Iraq, including providing shelter, WASH, cash distribution schemes and livelihoods projects, amongst others. Working in a faith-based organisation environment takes some getting used to, but the benefit of having shared values is extremely valuable in what can frequently be a very stressful environment. 

'I’ve now experienced Mango recruitment from various perspectives, as a recruiter, as a consultant and as a register member, and I very much value the link. The recruitment team has an intimate feel, and succeeds in building long-lasting relationships with their members. Indeed, I’ve been a Mango member for just over three years now and I’ve been placed four times by the team.’

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