2007 Cultural Bridge Fellows

 

Inbal Alon | UGANDA
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Inbal Alon worked in Northern Uganda with Betty Ocean Aol, a Ugandan member of parliament, to support former child soldiers’ education and protection. Inbal designed a study to assess the impact of the Acholi Bursary Scheme, a program for war-affected young people. The overall objective of the Acholi Bursary Scheme is to facilitate reconciliation, reintegration, and reconstruction of Acholi’s war-affected districts by improving access to education for adolescents. Since its inception, the program has assisted 5,500 war-affected young people, mostly former child soldiers, to go back to secondary school or vocational institutes. Inbal’s study not only to informed future phases of the program, but also enriched the human rights discussion in Uganda and East Africa.

 


Francesco Ferretti | INDIA
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Francesco Ferretti worked with Sister Sudha Varghese and another former Cultural Bridge Fellow, Myra Valenzuela, in Bihar, India. Sister Sudha is the founder of Nari Gunjan, a non-profit organization that promotes social, political, and economic empowerment for women and girls belonging to Bihar’s most backward caste. Nari Gunjan had 50 elementary education centers in Bihar in 2007 and a residential hostel for girls to continue their education. The centers provided vocational training and micro-credit assistance for women. Francesco assisted Sister Sudha in designing and starting a legal study group to analyze and increase women’s access to legal protection in courts. Francesco also helped Sister Sudha to develop an English language curriculum for girls.

 


Molly Kinder | LIBERIA
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Molly Kinder worked in Liberia with Antoinette Sayeh, Liberia’s Minister of Finance. Building on her core MPA/ID coursework in economics, Molly supported the Ministry on a diverse range of development-focused policies such as private sector development and employment creation, investment code and tax reform, fiscal policy and budget allocations, and preparation for arrears clearance and debt relief. One of Molly’s primary projects focused on the issue of Liberia’s burdensome debt and the pursuit of urgently needed debt relief from the donor community. Liberia’s mammoth outstanding debt of nearly $3.5 billion served as a formidable obstacle to essential social sector spending, while at the same time distracting limited human resource capacity from priority government tasks.

 


Tamara Klajn | SOMALILAND
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Tamara Klajn’s summer internship was with Ms. Suaad Ibrahim Abdi at the Academy for Peace and Development in Hargeisa, Somaliland. Ms. Abdi served as the head of the Decentralization and Non-State Actors Project for the Academy for Peace and Development (APD). Tamara worked with Ms. Abdi to design policies that define local government roles and operations, and create accountability for the centrally-nominated district executive secretaries. Tamara assisted in evaluation of three key issues: 1) the development of a democratically agreed upon system for the future of the Guurti, or House of Elders; 2) the production of a single electoral law to govern the conduct of all future elections; and 3) the review of contentious elements of the constitution. Additionally, Tamara’s research included assessing potential international engagement and the impacts of foreign involvement in a developing nation.

 


Zach Neumann | LIBERIA
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Zach Neumann worked as a protocol assistant for Liberian President Ellen Johnshon Sirleaf. In his role, Zach had a range of duties, including: organizing the President’s schedule, arranging for international travel, coordinating meetings and preparing speeches and briefing materials. The position allowed Zach to interact with President Sirleaf and other senior officials on a regular basis. Not only was Zach be able to develop a deeper understanding of Liberian politics, he was also able to directly provide critical organizational support to the government as it continues to promote peace and sustainable development.

 


Roshan Paul | COLOMBIA
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Roshan Paul worked with Ana Teresa Bernal and her organization, Redepaz (Network of Peace), in Bogota, Colombia. Redepaz uses innovative strategies and mechanisms to mobilize civil society in Colombia to come together in non-violent opposition to the country’s five decade-long conflict. Ana Teresa Bernal and Redepaz have received several recognitions for their successful peacebuilding work, including the Ashoka Fellowship for social entrepreneurship and a Nobel Peace Prize nomination. Roshan’s primary role is to help Ms. Bernal and the Redepaz senior management team develop a 10-year strategic plan for the organization.

 


Jessica Reitz | SUDAN
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Jessica Reitz worked in Sudan with Fahima A. Hashim, the Salmmah Women’s Resource Centre, and women legislators to help Sudanese women actualize and implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed between the north and south of Sudan. She focused on helping women do capacity building work, developing political strategy, and teaching campaigns and advocacy skills. Jessica worked particularly with Darfurian women to advocate to legislators in Khartoum, members of the African Union, and leaders of other international organizations for women’s participation at all levels in the Darfur peace process.

 


Emily Stanger | LIBERIA
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Emily Stanger worked in Liberia with Vabah Gayflor, Liberia’s Minister of Gender and Development, supporting the Ministry’s work to formulate a national action plan addressing gender-based violence. Through cooperation with the Department of Research and Technical Services, she conducted data analysis on the prevalence and profile of gender-based and sexual violence in Liberia. In addition to informing the nation’s action plan, mandated by the interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, this assessment contributed to the continued efforts by the Liberian government and international development partners to tackle issues that constrain women’s involvement in Liberia’s development process.

 


Anne Sung | NEPAL
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Anne Sung worked with Sarita Giri, central member of the Nepal Sadbhavana Party and Director of the Center for Women and Politics (CWAP) in Nepal. To support CWAP’s efforts to educate and empower women and other historically-marginalized groups in the Constituent Assembly elections, Anne researched and reported on best practices utilized by women in other countries with experiences relevant to Nepal’s evolving circumstances. In addition, she developed strategy and materials for providing support, training, and relationship-building among grassroots leaders who organize women across Nepal.

 


Myra Valenzuela | INDIA
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Myra Valenzuela worked with Sister Sudha Vargehse along with Francesco Ferretti, in Bihar, India. Sister Sudha is the founder of Nari Gunjan, a non-profit organization that promotes social, political, and economic empowerment for women and girls belonging to Bihar’s most backward caste. At the time of this internship, Nari Gunjan had 50 elementary education centers in Bihar and a residential hostel for girls to continue their education. The centers provided vocational training and micro-credit assistance for women. Myra assisted Sister Sudha in fundraising efforts, developing an English language curriculum for the children, and training the staff to assist women’s Self-Help Groups in the various villages where Nari Gunjan has a presence.

 


Karina Weinstein | INDIA
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Karina Weinstein worked with Shaheen Mistri, an Ashoka fellow and the founder of Akanksha, in Mumbai, India. Akanksha is a grassroots community organization whose mission is to empower children and youth from slums in Mumbai. The organization runs 37 after school centers and works to reform public school education with a mission to maximize the potential of each child and to provide unique learning and leadership opportunities. Karina helped with the Teachers Program as well as the Learning to Lead program, training teachers as well as providing leadership workshops to the youth. Additionally, she engaged the children in a creative project using visual art around the issues of violence and community security.

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Myra Valenzuela spent the summer in Bihar, India working with Sister Sudha of Nari Gunjan, a non-profit organization that promotes social, political, and economic empowerment for women and girls belonging to Bihar’s lowest caste.

 

 

"But perhaps the greatest challenge Bihar women face is changing societal attitudes towards women and gender equality--something that may take a generation or two."

-Myra Valenzuela