Name: Madeleine Muñoz Zegarra
Title: Program Assistant, Heifer Peru
How long have you worked for Heifer? 7 years
What attracted you to work for Heifer? The way Heifer supports people through the sharing of resources. I think it’s a way of empowering people by making them feel that, no matter their situation of poverty, they are able to help their neighbors.
What has been the most memorable experience you have had while working for Heifer? During the nearly four years I spent working in the communities of Piura, in the northern part of my country, I had the opportunity to work directly with the families through self-esteem, gender and leadership workshops.
It was the best opportunity to get to know them and strengthen the ties of our friendship, especially when we talked about the limitations that we often put on ourselves or that are put upon us socially as males or females. Between smiles and games, we would often practice public speaking techniques in workshops with the women to address fears of speaking in public.
I remember well one of the first workshops in the field when the women were asked to volunteer to participate in the leadership training workshops. A young woman, Ricardina del Morante, raised her hand timidly. After the meeting, one of the leaders came up to me and almost secretly advised me to think about whether Ricardina and some of the other women should be included in the workshops because he knew the women and knew that they never spoke in the meetings. He bet that it would be almost impossible to make any progress with them and thought it would be better to choose women who were proving to be potential leaders. I thanked him for his advice but said the most important thing was that they had the initiative to participate and the best bet was to support those most in need.
Ricardina never missed a workshop, and you could see her effort to speak in public, noting that each time the volume of her voice raised as the women in the workshop supported each other with their advice. After two and a half years, Ricardina was elected to a leadership role, leaving many people astonished at the changes she had made.
One day, Ricardina told me, “The day that I raised my hand, I was afraid of not being taken into account. I was tired of wanting to say something but not being able to; something was stopping me. I wanted to do this for my son. At that moment, I thought the baby might be like me, not speaking, shy. I went to each workshop with him, and now he is a real talker. I definitely consider myself shy, someone of few words, but I say what I think and I feel like I’m the best example for my son. Now I help other women who speak the least.”
My education includes: My professional title is Psychologist. I studied for my Masters in Clinical Psychology and Health at San Marcos University. I received a diploma in gender as a post-grad at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and a diploma in public investment projects at San Marcos. I have also participated in extension courses related to tracking and monitoring projects and participatory training techniques.
My hobbies include: I like to paint, do crafts, play with my kids and read. A lot of the time, I am thinking about games to play with my kids. Sometimes I put on music and teach my oldest son to dance or make choreographed songs so you can jump, run, etc., to them.
My family consists of: I am the fifth of seven siblings and most are married and have formed their own families. In my case, it’s:
• Carlos, my husband
• Piero, my first son, who is four-and-a-half (born July 14, 2007)
• Paulo, my second son, who is nine-months-old (born February 28, 2011)
Something about me that you might not know: I like simple things. I don’t use makeup or wear sophisticated clothes. I don’t like to wear high heels.
I admire my parents, who are the children of campesinos and migrated to Lima with their six small children while dealing with the terrorism of the 1980s and the economic crisis of currency devaluation and unemployment. Since then, they have thought us that poverty is transitory, and what remains is the value of education, work and family support in the face of a crisis.
What is the best thing about working at Heifer Peru? I like to collect the life stories of the people we work with. Many times their words find the essence and importance of the work we do, how they live, how they feel about the project work and how it changed their lives.The opportunity to work in the field and talk with people is the most valuable part of the work. I was lucky enough to see some Passing on the Gift® ceremonies and dance and celebrate the joy of helping others with them. I have seen the sharing of guinea pigs, alpacas, sheep and seeds in different parts of the country (the coast and the mountains), and each time the experience is different.