Enable low bandwidth mode Disable low bandwidth mode
FEX 50 Banner

What became of………..Killian Forde?


Ebola TeamLike a crazy bag lady rummaging in the skips, she was on her hands and knees on the floor searching carefully.

In her hand, a red pen and on the floor, the first issue of Field Exchange, all sellotaped together so it made one massive sheet that covered the entire office floor.

You see Fiona O’Reilly, for some reason that neither of us could recall, decided to do the layout and publishing herself. Beside the fact that she had zero experience of the software and the same amount of experience in design, she threw herself into learning it within two weeks.

And in those two weeks, Fiona, my boss had become slightly obsessed, borderline demonic, working 14 hours a day to get the first issue out on her own self imposed deadline.  And out on time it went.

My own contribution to the design of Field Exchange was my insistence it needed to look different, look attractive to read for those in the sector. Fiona and Jeremy took my views on board and we started a practice of looking for stunning pictures from the aid sector that wrapped around the whole front and back page.

Other than that, I proof read dozens of articles about a subject I knew little about but in my time working there could tell my MUACs from my JFNAMs.

It was in ENN that I got my taste to be an Aid Worker and it was from there that I got my first post, as a programme manager for an Irish NGO based in Bosnia.  I loved the place, staying in the region for five years and ending my time there working with an amazing small team of people in Montenegro with WFP.

A dabble in and subsequent retirement from electoral politics followed, a few years running a policy think tank and then suffering from a mid life ponder, I went out to Sierra Leone during the Ebola emergency.

Being away from aid work for so long I forgot how intense the work is but the main difference to me is the extraordinary amounts of internal paperwork required to implement programmes. Emergency NGOs were established partly in response to the slow and bureaucratic international organisations’ response.

Certainly transparency and good governance are essential to our work but the cost is  both efficiency and speed of response.

The aid sector has also become more professional with aid agencies looking to nurture and care for their staff that wasn’t the experience of many 15 years previously. And organisations such as the ENN were perfectly placed at a time when the Internet was just beginning it stellar rise in use.  The web means that now based in a rural part of Sierra Leone, I can log on and read the latest Field Exchange and share my learning with others.

I’d like to thank Fiona and Jeremy for the break they gave me and wish their little baby a happy grown up 50th edition.

Killian Forde


Killian Forde was the first employee of the ENN in 1997 working on administration and sub-editing of Field Exchange.

He left in 1998 and spent five years in the Balkans, before returning to Ireland and becoming involved in Irish Politics. He spent seven years on Dublin City Council following which he was CEO of the influential policy think tank, The Integration Centre. He is currently in Sierra Leone working on the post Ebola response. 


About This Article

Article type: 

Download & Citation

Recommended Citation
Citation Tools