Title: Program Assistant
Location: Southern Office, Cusco, Peru
When did you start working for Heifer? I first began working in Heifer projects as a contractor in October 2004. Then, I became an official part of the Heifer family in July 2005.
Through POG, it is possible to remember and experience feelings and attitudes that have always existed in humanity, but were lost due to poverty and exclusion. Heifer brings these emotions and hope back to communities.
It's exciting when you hear the reflections and testimonies of people who know and work with Heifer, saying, "...now we talk more... now we have organized ourselves... now we feel better about each other.... before this project I only thought about making a profit for myself... with Heifer now we think differently..."
I rejoice in these phrases. While working with Heifer Peru I have seen many people's attitudes change. I am often moved to tears when I see people who have changed their lives through Heifer and contribute to their own development.
Heifer has a great task of reviving and promoting the feelings of solidarity and mutual support. I am honored to be part of this family, my team and the beautiful work we do. I get to work in my home country of Peru. The philosophies of Heifer align with the values and principles I learned as a child in my dear parents' home.
What has been the most memorable experience you have had while working for Heifer? A POG of Sheep in Acopia in April of 2010 where 30 original project families passed on to 180 new families! The sheep were local Creole sheep and the families had been trained in breeding improvement. Most of the local authorities were there, as well as the regional government, representatives from the local university and Heifer study tour participants.
Of course, each POG ceremony is unique, but this one held special purpose. I remember it because of the strong desire shown by the original families to pass on and share what they had learned and gained through the project. They were so proud. They had overcome intense poverty and learned so much.
Their breeders association submitted proposals to the municipalities to increase group resources to continue improving their work with the sheep. This accomplishment alone was fulfilling for them, and me.
I have known, visited with, and shared good times with community and group leaders who treasure the trainings that Heifer provides to strengthen their capacity. It enables them to overcome obstacles and represent their communities and families so that everything can get better.
There are so many people whose actions and examples have carved the path that I walk for Heifer International. This includes staff and project partners. There are colleagues who are still with Heifer and even those who are not, but the footprint of their impact is still so deep and their philosophies so strong that they continue to have impact and help in my life.
My education includes:
- master's degree in Rural Development
- basic English
- biologist with experience in administration; planning, marketing and evaluation in rural development; and conservation of biodiversity, with a focus on agroecology
My hobbies include:
- talking with people
- listening to music
- watching movies
My family consists of: my parents, Victor Noe Melo Rivera and Lidia Velarde Andrade, and my husband Edilberto Castro Gomez.
Something about me that you might not know: In December 2012, I lost part of my being and I felt myself dying. After carrying my daughters for 29 weeks I lost Mary Immaculate and Linda Adelita. This was so painful, but I did not collapse.
I thank God for allowing me the dream and possibility of being a mother. I still have hope and I still dream. I know many women want to be a mother. I want this experience, too.
What is the best thing about working at Heifer Peru? The opportunity it allows me to meet and visit unique people and places that very few people are privileged to know. I love being in contact with the families, getting to know them and seeing their strength and determination - even when they work so hard for so little in the fields.
These families and Heifer are the guardians of diversity in my country. I am proud of Peru and its biodiversity, especially in the fiber of alpacas and the project work we do to enrich this unique culture.
Heifer Peru grants me the opportunity to be part of a team that impacts our society – to support families and communities. Others see our work, other NGOs and governments. It strengthens our country and states for the good of our brothers and sisters in the field.