Former peace fellows help Haiti rebuild
Louisa Dow and Bernard D. Togba Jr., meet at the Habitat for Humanity office in Haiti. Photo by Alyce Henson/Rotary Images.
W ith Haiti still reeling from last year's devastating earthquake and a continuing cholera epidemic, two former Rotary Peace Fellows are using their expertise to help the country rebuild and recover.
Watch a video clip of an interview with Louisa Dow.
Louisa Dow is the Habitat for Humanity partnership coordinator for Haiti disaster response, responsible for the organization’s relationships with the United Nations, USAID, and other agencies.
Dow manages the USAID Emergency Community Assistance and Planning (ECAP) program. Designed by Habitat for Humanity, ECAP is a nine-month, US$3 million emergency program that provides community-focused, on-the-ground technical support to government agencies that oversee Haiti's post-earthquake shelter and settlement initiatives.
"I feel so privileged to be in Haiti, helping families rebuild their lives by supporting them to find pathways to permanent housing," says Dow.
Dow, who is from Australia, says her 2008-10 studies at Duke University and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA, helped prepare her for the work. Her applied field experience with Habit for Humanity in Latin America and the Caribbean opened her eyes to the role of permanent housing in developing a peaceful and just society.
"Peace fellows work in diverse sectors," she says. "Not all of us are about mediation or negotiation. Providing access to shelter, education, and health care services has a direct impact on people living in conflict-affected countries."
Dow says her fellowship, which focused on international development policy, gave her the time and space to think about how she could help people improve their quality of life.
"I don't think there is a program that could have given me a better education in development and peace than the peace fellow curriculum," Dow says. "Being in an environment that nurtured all of us to find new and innovative areas to research was an experience like no other."
Izabela Pereira supports development efforts
As a cooperation project analyst for the United Nations Development Programme for Brazil, former Rotary Peace Fellow Izabela Pereira works with the Brazilian government to identify ways to implement cooperative reconstruction and development projects in Haiti.
"What motivates me is that I help my country to help another nation in need," says Pereira, a 2005-07 peace fellow at Universidad del Salvador in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Pereira says Brazil is a leader in the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti as well as one of the main donors supporting the country’s reconstruction. She travels between Brazil and Haiti, helping the Brazilian Agency for Cooperation implement initiatives in agriculture, water and sanitation, infrastructure, health care, security, and other areas.
Previously, Pereira worked as a democratic governance officer with the UN Integrated Mission in the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. Read more .
"Without a doubt, my previous experiences helped me deal with the unexpected and learn ways to overcome obstacles," she says. "These attributes are crucial in my work toward helping Haiti rebuild." Pereira says her experience working for nongovernmental organizations in Haiti and other countries taught her that the Rotary Peace Centers program serves a critical need.
"With the plethora of conflicts in so many regions, more specialists are needed, particularly coming from conflict zones," she says. "One of the program's greatest contributions is the promotion of peace through specialized education."
Written for Reconnections