Hector Roca, food security analyst, Guatemala

Hector is an assistant in the VAM (Vulnerability Assessment and Mapping) unit of WFP’s Guatemala office. His job is mainly to carry out food security and nutrition assessments and to produce maps displaying this information. He also helps with managing information databases.              

1) What is the hardest thing about your job?

To ensure that the information we have reflects the hardships that people are facing, especially those families that go hungry every day and whose voices are never heard. It is also hard for me to recognize that Guatemala is split into two worlds that are feuding with each other: one filled with luxury and development, but belonging to a minority, and the other full of hardships and sorrows, belonging to the majority.

2) What did you do before joining WFP?

I always acted as manager of systems in corporations and government. My main goal was always to create change in society through technology and communication.

3) How did you find your way into WFP?

Some years before joining the organization, I had to visit WFP as part of my work. I'd never had anything to do with the United Nations. I asked many questions and I found myself agreeing with the work that they had done. After a couple years the opportunity arose to work in an ICT position during the emergency caused by Hurricane Stan. Afterwards, I was about to leave WFP, when a colleague questioned my decision and asked me three questions: 1) How many families had received food in the first distribution? 2) How many were scheduled for the second distribution?, and 3) How much time would be wasted and food delayed for these families while someone else was learning my job? That night, my mind was filled with thoughts of the 23,000 families. Next morning it was very clear to me what I wanted to do in the coming years. I fell in in love with my job and thanked God for the opportunity of working for others.

4) What’s your most moving experience with WFP?

It would have been four years ago when I was part of a project that involved the empowerment of community leaders in the area of disaster risk reduction. It was the time when I could see at first hand the impact that our actions have on the people we serve. My years of study and experience all came together in that afternoon with these families. I left with a very different perception of life. I found myself face to face with the other side of Guatemala, one in which there are no frills, little development, but where people still offer visitors the little they have to eat and appreciate the simple fact of somebody having visited them.

5) What’s your most frightening experience?

Maybe it's not scary, but after my son was born in 2008 I made sure he had vaccinations and was growing well. At this time, I had to work in the field doing an assessment report. Although I was accustomed to seeing malnourished children, this time it had a different effect. It hurt me to see children under 3 years who could not walk because their legs were not strong enough, eating whatever they could get, with no dreams, no childhood, no education because they had to work, being exposed to diseases, etc.. It hurt because  I saw my own sonin them. I always carry these images in my head.

6) What is a humanitarian?

For me it is to stop thinking about what I need and think about what someone else needs. It is also about dreaming, but mainly working so that the world we are passing on to future generations will value the heart, and feelings, as much as economic and political interests.

7) Are you one?

I would like to think that I am.  Each day I learn more. I try not to get discouraged and stick with the conviction that I can always do more to help all these children and their families have food on their table. But also to believe that their future can be better.