News & Updates
August 6, 2013
Caterina tells us that, “Since I can remember I have always been fascinated by the African continent and African cultures, so I traveled south as soon as I could after finishing my first degree, a BA in Peace Operations, Conflict Management and Mediation in 2005.
In the area surrounding Johannesburg, SA, I volunteered for about one-and-a-half months in a center for HIV-affected children. Then I went back to Italy to finish my studies, earning an MA in International Cooperation and Non-violent Conflict Transformation in 2008.
While working on my MA, I cooperated with a Togolese NGO (non-governmental organization) in Lomé, Togo, called The Precious Hands, helping them with project design and short assessment missions. I eventually moved to Lomé where I followed the start-up phase of a project dealing with women’s empowerment through food processing and cooperative work.
After Togo I moved to Zambia where I worked as a project manager for one-and-a half years for an Italian NGO called SVI. We promoted sustainable development at the grassroots level through agro-forestry techniques and women’s empowerment (literacy classes and income generating activities); we were working hand-in-hand with the local communities, and I spent much of my time in the bush facilitating meetings and coordinating activities and trainings. During this experience, I applied for the Rotary Fellowship to refine my skills in terms of conflict management rather than pure development work.
Before joining the Rotary Peace Fellowship Program in September of this year, I was able to fit in a year, starting in September of 2012, as Head of Delegation for the Italian Red Cross in Haiti, which provided me with an opportunity to gain more knowledge. The challenging environment required me to balance the performance of my tasks relating to capacity building activities within the Haitian Red Cross and its projects in Community Health and Psychosocial Support on one hand, while developing successful working relationships with partners and beneficiaries on the other hand.
We asked each Peace Fellow two interview questions. Here are Caterina’s answers:
1. What is your opinion about the prospects of an end to armed conflict in the next 50 years?
Future developments, in general terms, are quite difficult and tricky to foresee, especially when it comes to such composite fields like conflict. This phenomenon is highly complex, multifaceted, and multi-causal. Its presence or absence is then inevitably the result of the interaction among multiple factors, such as local socio-economic and political structures, global power relationships, regional security, perceptional dynamics, and many others. Optimism is crucial to continue working in peace-related sectors, but it needs to be constantly balanced with factual results.
2. What do you believe are the three most important contributing factors to fostering peace within and among nations?
a) Genuine engagement with and involvement of local actors and resources in building positive peace;
b) Complementarity among initiatives aimed at building peace in order to consistently address the different dimensions affecting conflict outburst;
c) Training and education, especially of youth, to mainstream non-violent techniques of conflict transformation.
Caterina summarizes her ongoing interests as, “…combing my skills in mediation with my capacities in training and my passion for Africa in order to enhance local peacebuilding potentials and resources in one of the most challenging actors of the next future: the African continent.
It is amazing that Cate, as she prefers to be called, still has time for what she describes as “extracurricular” activities. These activities and interests that are also important in her life include: volunteering for the Red Cross (first aid trainer, ambulance rescuer, lifeguard, International Humanitarian Law Qualified Advisor), reading, fire-walking, parachuting, bungee-jumping, and white water rafting.
Thank you, Cate, for sharing the story of your very exciting path in life so far which has brought you currently to service as a Rotary Peace Fellow. Your life is rich with interest and inspiration, particularly about being a proactive learner both in and out of the academic environment. We hope you will keep us apprised of your work and insights as you go through the Rotary Peace Fellowship and beyond, most probably in, as you describe it, “one of the most challenging actors of the next future: the African continent.”
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