Courage, Dedication, Preparation, and Discipline: A Conversation with Holly Frew, Emergency Communications Manager, CARE USA

Courage, Dedication, Preparation, and Discipline: A Conversation with Holly Frew, Emergency Communications Manager, CARE USA



noun  1. a person who seeks to promote human welfare; a philanthropist.


For World Humanitarian Day on August 19, Christina had a conversation with humanitarian and #LoveActivist, Holly Frew, of CARE. We hope you are as inspired by this global warrior as we are!

Listen to the Full Audio here:


What is your technical job title, and what are some of the different humanitarian roles within CARE?

The general definition of a “humanitarian” is someone that extends their hands to help other people. In a way, we can all be humanitarians. My title is Emergency Communications Manager, so when there’s the disaster, especially with a breaking news or high-profile disasters like Hurricane Matthew that hit Haiti last Fall, the media is interested and wants to know what’s going on, and we want media to cover the story. So part of what my role is to be on the ground as the media spokesperson for CARE, trying to get particular messages out through media channels: what’s happening, what the needs are, what CARE is doing to respond, and what people can do to help. Being a humanitarian requires courage, dedication, preparation, discipline. It’s a true profession that requires a lot of skills. Not just anyone can do the work that CARE staff does as humanitarians.

Was becoming a humanitarian a conscious choice? 

It started when I was in my early twenties, I had my first trip to sub-Saharan Africa. I fell in love with other cultures, and I realized my role as a global citizen. When I got that exposure and connected with people from other cultures, and in places that are hard to get to, I felt this calling and passion to do my part as a global citizen. Then I learned there’s an actual career that can come out of this!



What was the last disaster you were called to? 

I was recently in East Africa for about seven weeks. There’s a huge food crisis sweeping across the sub-Saharan Africa, and also a major refugee crisis in Uganda. So, I was on the ground hosting media and gathering stories on what’s happening. Somalia is near famine conditions because of severe drought that has swept across the country. So I was there for one week, and also in Uganda for a couple weeks, because Uganda is currently experiencing the worst refugee crisis in Africa.

What do you suggest that someone does to help? Rather than put themselves in the middle of of disaster that might cause more problems, how can people help? 

This isn’t the most exciting option, but the best way to help is honestly through financial contributions. Find the credible organizations that you want to donate to:, When a disaster happens, a lot of times, people see what’s happening and they have this longing and they want to help; volunteer, donate clothes, or gifts-in-kind. Even donating things gifts can clog up the supply line, and take away what we’re trying to do – stimulate the local economies. So when we’re distributing items, a lot of times we we try our best to procure relief items locally, so that it also helps stimulate the local economy and it’s quicker for getting relief items to people.

We need funding to have the resources to respond to disasters. We’re in a historic time when it comes to humanitarian crises. CARE is responding to more humanitarian crises than ever before; the needs continue to go up, but the funding doesn’t also go up. Funding is the magic bullet that we’re looking for.

Are there times that it gets you down? When you’re on the front lines, and you feel rather helpless in some way, what do you do to lift yourself back up?

There are definitely times when I’m in a disaster, and I have to stay focused on the task at hand. I’ve learned ways to compartmentalize when I’m doing the job, but there are always moments, and should be moments, where things impact me. When I was in Uganda, there was a time when I met three young girls. They lost their entire family in the war and they were living as refugees all by themselves, just these three young girls. It hit me hard. I could see myself in the girls. What I had to do in that moment was take a deep breath, say a prayer and remind myself that what we’re doing will hopefully help them. It can certainly be challenging and emotionally difficult at times. I do a lot of yoga, which helps me!


Holly currently works at CARE and is embarking on a new career at World Vision. Support both organizations:

Donate to CARE (
Sponsor a child with World Vision (

Follow @hollyfrew on Twitter.

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