Name: Mariela Wismann

Title: Technical Office Coordinator

Location: Lima, Peru

How long have you worked for Heifer?
7 years

What attracted you to work for Heifer?
The emphasis that the organization puts on people, putting men and women at the center of all the processes and initiatives. This, in combination with work that is based on values, gives Heifer a unique identity that allows sustainable change. This encourages me to work every day.

What has been the most memorable experience you have had while working for Heifer?
Rural development work has a number of challenges. Working with women and empowerment is a way to contribute to equitable development and inclusion. In 2004, we formed a group of professionals who were in charge of a gender and leadership project. The objective was to promote equitable relations between men and women in both public and private spaces. The project produced a series of learnings, such as the design of strategies that led us to work with women. This didn’t mean we stopped working with men, but it did mean that we focused on a culturally excluded group.

What did we achieve after years of work? Strengthening the women’s self esteem, development of leadership, and an active presence in the functioning of campesino organizations (which are often ignored). Additionally, we managed to establish the theme of gender as an institutional policy and, since then, all projects should consider activities and budgets that promote a gender equity approach.

My education includes:
I have a degree in Sociology with a Master’s degree in Social Management from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, with ongoing studies in a Master’s program in Development Studies at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. My education includes project  development/management (design, monitoring and evaluation), rural development and work with a focus on gender equity. I have also been a part of the International Association of Facilitators to facilitate training events for adults.

My hobbies include:
I like to read and travel. Since I was a child, I have had the opportunity to develop these two hobbies. My parents have always tried to help me get to know different cultures around the world, which is a good way to explore and learn. Now I love to cook. I don’t do it often, but when I have the chance, I turn the kitchen into a space of delicious experiments that is full of love.

My family consists of:
I am part of a big family. My parents, Gene and Ella, live in the central jungle and grow coffee and citrus fruits. In my family, there are five siblings (one brother and four sisters). I have 12 nieces and nephews and six grandnieces and grandnephews. My family is an interesting mix of cultures. My dad is the son of a Jew who immigrated to Peru in the early 20th century. My mom comes from a Japanese family. The children were born and raised in the central jungle with the influence of diverse cultures.

Something about me that you might not know:
I spent my childhood in the central jungle, and I remember fondly the nature: the smell of coffee and oranges. I felt like the farm was my playground. In the mid-80s, the armed conflict began to be felt in the central jungle, which is why my family decided to move to the city of Lima. My interest in Sociology and rural development work corresponds with my upbringing and history, as well as my commitment to create, with rural men and women, better conditions for a full life lived in freedom.

What is the best thing about working at Heifer Peru?
Giving people the opportunity to move from a state of exclusion and vulnerability to a state that enables them to live a full and dignified life with the possibility to support other families. The sharing of resources summarizes this commitment, where everyone at some point can become key development actors and agents of change.

Author

Brooke Edwards

Brooke Edwards is from Little Rock, Arkansas, and started working at Heifer International in 2009 as a writer. She has a master's in social work and a bachelor's degree in psychology. She is married, a mother of two, and a wannabe urban farmer, raising her own chickens and killing most of her vegetable crops.