The testimony of Giulia Rucireta

Giulia: her experience in El Salvador

Presentation of the results of the study on microcredit’s social impact


In the framework of the agreement established between the Legislative Assembly of the Emilia Romagna Region of Italy and KIP Universitas Programme, I was awarded the ¨René Cassin¨ Fellowship, a grant for a 10-month practical work-training internship in El Salvador, at the Local Economic Development Agency (LEDA) in the Department of Morazán. Here I worked on two parallel activities:

On the one hand, I supported the implementation of the social impact assessment model of a micro-credit program financed by Oxfam Quèbec and One Drop: Agua para las poblaciones of trópico seco de El Salvador. On the other, I assisted the implementation of internationally funded development projects and I provided strategic assistance to the operational growth of the Agency.

This experience allowed me to put into practice the theoretical knowledge on development cooperation acquired during my Master's Degree, enriching it with that daily field work which is often lacking in the academic world.

In particular, I learnt more about methods of qualitative and quantitative analysis: from the planning stage to data collection and data analysis using the appropriate programs, to its graphic presentation and reporting.

Through this internship opportunity I had the chance to look at international cooperation from the point of view of the local counterpart, in projects funded by international donors, and appreciate the complexity that the local dimension involves.

An interview realized by Giulia during the study on microcredit’s social impact

After the internship, LEDA offered me to one-year work opportunity as a consultant in a project carried out in the framework of the European Union Program “Non State Actors and Local Authorities in Development” to foster rural local development and gender equality through the strengthening of micro and small business enterprises. Specifically, I carried out territorial diagnostics to study the organizational and associative processes of agricultural cooperatives and associations involved in the project and I analyzed the value chains.

Through this work opportunity, which I could carry out thanks to the technical skills acquired during the internship, I gained confidence with key concepts, such as local economic development and women's empowerment and I personally experienced, through my field work and the testimonies of the beneficiaries, the importance of investing in these areas, in order to ensure sustainable human development.

During that same year, on the occasion of the invitation of the Universitas Program, I was able to attend the seminar on "Local and Community Economic Development in Manitoba's Urban Context", held in Winnipeg, Canada, where I presented my final report about women's entrepreneurship in the eastern region of El Salvador.

Determined to continue my work in this area, I found another year-long work experience in India, in the slums of Bangalore, at the project "Women's Training Centre". My main activities were facilitating training and employment of young Indian women; providing logistical and operational support to the management of vocational training center; and supporting the local consultants for technical assistance.

To learn more about gender, economic empowerment and local development I spent one more year abroad, in the city of Medellin, Colombia, participating in the Italian government project “Working insertion and creation of micro businesses for women victims of Colombian armed conflict”.

The project, promoted by the Italian NGO PRO.DO.C.S in partnership with the Colombian NGO Fundación Las Golondrinas, provides support for vocational training and job insertion of women victims of the Colombian conflict. Because of my previous work experience in this field, I was able to implement a monitoring and evaluation system for the micro-enterprises previously created by the project. At the same time, I joined the project management area, redacting project proposals, improving relationships with the local partners and public stake-holders involved in the project and I attended to the management and financial accountability of a scholarship program for women victims of the Colombian armed conflict.

Technical support visit to the beneficiaries of the project

After this period, I received a job offer from the Italian NGO to provide training, support and technical assistance to new volunteers in Colombia and to monitor the scholarship program.

I am very grateful for all the opportunities the René Cassin award has given me. It has offered me personal challenges and chances to grow professionally, putting into practice the knowledge derived from my studies and getting practical and operating skills in the field of development cooperation. I got the chance to connect with international institutions and at the same time with the local partners, and I improved my analytical skills and my ability to think critically and to find creative solutions to problems; this is essential to work with greater awareness and maturity.

Moreover, working in a multicultural environment, I experienced the need to coordinate, mediate and be flexible, especially in the field of cooperation that by its own nature implies the encounter of different realities and people geographically dislocated and coming with different points of view. I was pleasantly surprised to realize that the intersection of different knowledge and skills can be translated into participatory work.

From a personal point of view, this experience has strengthened my ability to adapt and my curiosity about the unknown. Above all, it has motivated me to discover and learn more about El Salvador, a country victim of stereotypes and prejudices linked to its present and past history, and that, to the contrary, has shown me the nuances of a complex society with a fascinating culture.

The internship has definitely represented a time of academic and professional enrichment, but at the same time it was an extraordinary opportunity for cultural and personal growth, increasing my empathy and my ability to appreciate differences, and to integrate them into my own vision of the world and life.

Giulia

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