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Selfie of Dr Muminul Haque Munna and Dr Ramima Afrin Pinky who work for the IRC in Bangladesh
Valentines Day

Meet the IRC couples supporting each other throughout the coronavirus pandemic and beyond

“He always reminds me how strong I am”

Photo: courtesy of Dr Muminul Haque Munna and Dr Ramima Afrin Pinky

This Valentines Day we’re celebrating our staff who provide life-saving work across the world - and their partners’ that have supported them throughout the coronavirus pandemic and beyond. 

From long-distance relationships to dividing the housework, meet the power couples of the IRC, supporting each other no matter what.

Eman and Dr Mohamed, Libya 

Selfie of Eman and Dr Mohamed work for the IRC in Libya.

Eman and Dr Mohamed are part of the IRC's health response in Libya, providing vital medical services to some of the country's most vulnerable.

Photo: Courtesy of Eman and Dr Mohamed.

Eman is a Pharmacist Officer for the IRC in Libya and works with her husband Dr Mohamed who leads the IRC’s medical teams. The couple worked together for two years before they got married.

“He’s an incredibly supportive husband, especially since I got pregnant. He always reminds me how strong I am.” Eman tells us. “I love working with him and we feel so lucky to have each other.”

“Mohamed has always supported and encouraged me at work, motivating and inspiring me. I feel like I owe him so much of what I’ve become today.”

Ahmed and Fardowso, Somalia

Selfie of Ahmed and Fardowso who both work for the IRC in Somalia

IRC staff Ahmed and Fardowso have had to spend most of the pandemic apart as they work three hours away from each other. Despite the long-distance relationship, they've still found ways to support each other through a difficult year.

Photo: Courtesy of Ahmed and Fardowso

Ahmed works on the IRC’s WASH programme and Fardowso is a Women’s Protection and Empowerment Officer for the IRC in Somalia. Their jobs are based in towns three hours apart, meaning the couple have had to spend most of the pandemic apart. Despite this, they have still found ways to support each other through the difficult year.

Fardowso told us: “If you live and work away from your partner, it won’t take long for you to start missing them. With COVID-19 travel restrictions, it has become even harder knowing that you cannot travel to see or meet them. Fortunately, we would talk every day on the phone or video call just cope with the situation, but it has never been as fulfilling as having them close.”

Dr Muminul Haque Munna and Dr Ramima Afrin Pinky, Bangladesh

Selfie of Dr Muminul Haque Munna and Dr Ramima Afrin Pinky who work for the IRC in Bangladesh

Dr Muminul Haque Munna and Dr Ramima Afrin Pinky are both a part of the IRC’s frontline humanitarian response in Bangladesh, where the IRC works in one of the world's largest refugee camps Cox's Baazar, home to almost 1 million Rohingya refugees.

Photo: Courtesy of Dr Muminul Haque Munna and Dr Ramima Afrin Pinky

Dr Muminul Haque Munna and Dr Ramima Afrin Pinky are both a part of the IRC’s frontline humanitarian response in Bangladesh, which is home to almost 1 million Rohingya refugees. 

The COVID-19 outbreak has been challenging for the couple, both personally and for their work as health care professionals. But they’ve been able to overcome these obstacles together, making them stronger with a deeper appreciation for each other. 

“We are both proud to be medical professionals and humanitarian workers at this time. We feel blessed to be a part of the greater response in a worldwide pandemic like COVID-19. This made our relationship stronger while working for a common goal. We understand our challenges and complement each other to overcome them.” 

Rola and Yousef, Jordan 

Selfie of Syrian refugees Rola and Yousef from the IRC in Jordan

Syrian refugee Rola volunteers at the IRC’s Zaatari Health Clinic in Jordan, “During the volunteering period, my husband, Yousef, supported me and was watching our children while I was at the clinic." She told us.

Photo: Courtesy of Rola and Yousef

Rola is a Syrian volunteer at the IRC’s Zaatari Health Clinic in Jordan, her husband supports her by looking after their children so that she can work. 

“During the volunteering period, my husband, Yousef, supported me and was watching our children while I was at the clinic. He said that I should take this opportunity to improve myself."

Maw Ku Moe and Sue Reh, Thailand

Maw Ku Moe and Sue Reh from the IRC in Thailand

Maw Ku Moe and Sue Reh both work for the IRC in Ban Mai Nai Soi refugee camp in Thailand. Since the pandemic, the couple has worked to educate and raise awareness of COVID-19 in their community.

Photo: Courtesy of Maw Ku Moe and Sue Reh

Maw Ku Moe and Sue Reh both work for the IRC in Ban Mai Nai Soi refugee camp in Thailand. Maw Ku Moe has worked for the IRC’s Women’s Protection and Empowerment programme since 2014, supporting women and girls at the IRC’s Women and Girls’ Safe Space.  Her husband, Sue Reh, works as Environmental Health Supervisor for the IRC’s Environmental Health programme and has worked for the IRC since 2012. 

Both Maw Ku Moe and Sue Reh enjoy working for their community through their work at the IRC. The couple supports each other with household chores, including cooking, cleaning, and looking after their children so that both are able to work. Since the pandemic, the couple has worked to educate and raise awareness in their community on COVID-19 prevention and response.

Mariam and Abdel, Lebanon

Mariam and Abdel in Lebanon

“When I get back to my tent, he provides me with all means of comfort, and he receives me with a big smile. And I do exactly the same for him.” Refugees Mariam and her husband Abdel have been together for 32 years. Abdel is a great support for Mariam, taking over the household tasks whilst she volunteers for the IRC.

Photo: Courtesy of Mariam and Abdel

Mariam is an outreach volunteer for the IRC, working as part of our Women’s Protection and Empowerment programmes in informal settlements in Arsal, Lebanon. Mariam and her husband Abdel, who are both refugees, have been together for 32 years. Abdel is a huge support for his wife, taking over the household tasks whilst Mariam is at work.

“‘Go to your work, I can take over the other tasks,’ he says. If we had any visitors, he receives them well, covering for me in my absence. And I do the same for him.” Says Mariam. “Honesty, love, and respect between couples is everything for building a healthy and ideal family.”

After long days at work, Mariam is grateful to come home to Abdel. “When I get back to my tent, he provides me with all means of comfort, and he receives me with a big smile. And I do exactly the same for him.”

Marji Garang and Anjelina Akoon, Kenya 

Marji Garang and Anjelina Akoon work for the IRC in Kenya

“We have gone through lots of challenges as a family, but despite all that, we have remained supportive of one another simply because we have one common goal.” At the beginning of the pandemic, IRC Health workers Marji Garang and Anjelina Akoon worked hard to help reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Photo: Courtesy of Marji Garang and Anjelina Akoon

Marji Garang and Anjelina Akoon work on the IRC’s Community Health Programme in a refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya. At the beginning of the pandemic, they worked hard to help reduce the spread of coronavirus at their work in the camp and at home.

“As a couple, we took it very seriously in order to protect ourselves and the children from getting infected. We put a hand washing station in our compound and wear masks whenever we are out in public places or at work.”

“We have gone through lots of challenges as a family, but despite all that, we have remained supportive of one another simply because we have one common goal.”