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Working in the Field: Writing on Rights

Very important meetings are taking place in the MADRE conference room about our ongoing project to meet urgent community needs in Haiti. We’ve also received great news: our partner and co-founder of KOFAVIV, Malya Villard-Appolon, has been nominated as a Top 10 CNN Heroes of 2012!

Since the January 2010 earthquake, the Haitian women and children are especially struggling. MADRE works closely with our partner KOFAVIV to provide direct aid to survivors in Haiti, and to transform the conditions that give rise to sexual violence against the poor.

Through KOFAVIV, MADRE helps Malya to provide rape survivors with care and counseling, as well as to organize nighttime community watch groups, which provide women with whistles and flashlights. Arguably the most important contribution Malya has made, being a survivor of rape twice in her life, is showing women the hardest step: it is okay to speak out, and not be afraid to admit they have been a victim.

"This hangs over my desk and reminds me what we work for every day." - Elaina.

I feel it is imperative to be exposed to such pressing, global human rights issues; I feel privileged being part of this rewarding experience, voting for Malya each day to support her movement to build human rights and create positive social change in Haiti.

Another aspect of interning at MADRE that I am grateful for is that my language skills are seamlessly contributing to my positive experience in the workplace: my supervisor Sahita has given me various documents and letters to translate between Spanish and English.

One project to be translated was the IV Forum of Wangki Indigenous Womenheld in Waspam, Rio Coco, Nicaragua. This assignment taught me how Indigenous women are faced with disadvantages including social and economic exclusion, limited space for political participation, lack of access to education, and racial discrimination. This forum brought women of 115 Indigenous communities together, uniting their thoughts and voices and sharing their achievements.

Elaina and Sahita at MADRE.

Another assignment I worked on was the translation of the Open Letter: To President Juan Manuel Santos of the Republic of Colombia. This letter taught me about the Coalition against the Involvement of Children and Young People in the Armed Conflict in Colombia (COALICO); the COALICO calls on the Colombian government to prioritize in peace talks for the cessation of acts that violate the rights of children, as the foundation for a lasting peace within the country.

Through the tasks given to me by my supervisor Sahita, I have improved my hands-on research skills, and I have gained an abundance of knowledge about MADRE and its achievements together with our international partners. I cannot wait to step back into the office, and embrace any and all new challenges that await me at MADRE!