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60 seconds with…Betsie Lewis (2021)

Our ‘60 Seconds with…’ blogs are designed to provide a quick rundown of what our staff do here at Itad. Read the latest and find out what Betsie has to say about her role and Itad.

What’s your job here at Itad?

I am a consultant working on health programmes in fragile settings, conflict, migration, and humanitarian assistance.

What does that involve?

My week can switch between focusing on the elimination of neglected tropical diseases, researching sexual and reproductive health, the protection of refugee rights, and evaluating humanitarian aid in areas of conflict.

In order to do this, my work life usually revolves around periods of interviews with people all over the world, data collection, document reviews, team meetings, and the analysis and synthesis of large amounts of information.

In addition to this, I’d sometimes find myself in workshops with partners in order to refine theories of change or with colleagues presenting emerging findings and analysing results together.

How did you get into the field?

I think it was my undergraduate degree that had the most influence on my decision to work in international development. Whilst studying French and Arabic, I was fortunate enough to spend a year living in the Middle East and North Africa.

It was during this time that I interned for an environmental organisation and attended COP22 in Marakesh. Here I met many civil society groups and activists who were so knowledgeable on the impacts of climate change on their communities and countries. This really inspired me to start engaging more with the global challenges I was seeing emerge around me.

After having left Morocco, I moved to Jordan where I was fortunate enough to travel around Palestine and Lebanon, and this is where I solidified my passion for Middle Eastern culture and life.

Whilst living in Amman, I studied Arabic and volunteered for numerous refugee organisations, including in the Zaatari Refugee camp.

It was here I became aware of the impacts of conflict on communities and individuals and this is what led me to dedicate my time to learning about the rights and regulations governing refugee communities’ lives in Jordan and took this passion home with me.

Upon returning to the UK, I continued to volunteer as a researcher for refugee rights groups and became a volunteer caseworker for asylum seekers across Merseyside. Eventually, I enrolled in my master’s in conflict and reconstruction and focused my dissertation on the securitisation of migration under French law. I wanted to continue the learning path after I graduated from my master’s, and found myself in MEL.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy the people: people I work with and people I meet through my work. I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by people I can continuously learn from.

What new innovations/methods have you noticed in your sector?

I think, most recently, I’d say it’s the new approaches to remote data collection that are emerging. Due to COVID-19, all of our international travel has been suspended. I’ve been really impressed with people holding online focus group discussions, interviews and using collaborative tools like Miro in order to continue collecting a wide range of data from the field.

Recent highlight/job wins?

My most recent highlight has to be our evaluation of the protection of the rights of refugees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This has been a longstanding passion of mine, and I still volunteer with refugees in the UK, so to be able to integrate this into my daily work has been a real privilege.

I’m also enjoying learning from industry experts and developing my own research skills.

Most interesting question you have been asked recently?

Today I was asked if I’d join a focus group discussion on HIV/ AIDS. A completely new area for me so that was pretty interesting.

Favourite place you have visited as part of your job?

There isn’t much competition as I only joined Itad six months before COVID-19 hit. But I was lucky enough to go on one field trip to Eastern DRC as part of a humanitarian evaluation. It was an unforgettable experience and one that I remember really fondly.


Find out more about our work on migration and displacement.