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17 February 2015

Interview with Angeles Martinez, Director of the medica mondiale Regional Office in Burundi: “The aim is to establish strong alliances to work more effectively.”

Angeles Martinez has been working in the field of development work, with a focus on women’s protection, since 1993. At the end of January, she went to Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi, to set up an office there for medica mondiale and she will start work in March. Her first tasks include contacting partner organisations in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, as well as making new contacts.

Why has medica mondiale decided to open an office in Burundi?

The idea of setting up this office is to have a base which will enable us to provide better support in the region for the partners of medica mondiale and all those actively working on the issues of sexualised violence. Burundi was chosen because it is secure enough and located in the middle of countries where we think sexualised violence needs to be addressed.

What motivated you to accept this mission?

My personal motivations are basically my humanitarian and feminist background and principles. And certainly also my previous experience with medica mondiale, whose work is based on a vision and principles totally in accord with my own. Additionally, it is an interesting challenge to coordinate action in various countries while maintaining a global vision that recognises common features and extends beyond one single country or region. In a second step I might also be able to better analyse the mechanisms of patriarchal motives for sexualised violence, which should also benefit the work at medica mondiale.

What help will this office enable you to offer to the partner organisations in the Great Lakes region of Africa?

Initially we will take a look at the situation and the needs of the current partners. We will analyse their skills and opportunities, which shows us how we can improve the support we provide. We are looking for opportunities to promote and support trauma-sensitive counselling, psychosocial support and other measures which medica mondiale has developed to support survivors of sexualised violence. At a later stage we are also looking at advocacy and public relations work.

Are you planning to work together with other organisations?

We would like to cooperate with other actors in our field and strengthen the various networks and existing structures. The aim is to establish strong alliances to work more effectively. Our work does not involve improvising a stand-alone intervention. Rather, we build on existing local capacities.

Is there anything our donors can do to support your work?

I would like to give them an insight into the general situation in the Great Lakes region of Africa and in particular the situation of women there, whose life is characterised by sexualised violence and other gender-based issues. Knowing this is essential for the supporters to better understand the work of medica mondiale and our objectives in the different countries in the region of the Great Lakes. It can be difficult for donors to understand the situation or perceive the needs because it no longer often makes the headlines. I hope to help our supporters empathise with the women there, so the women of the Great Lakes region are not forgotten. After all, there are ongoing conflicts and a lot of work still needs to be done. Our donors’ support is crucial for the success of this work.

So I invite donors to learn more about our goal and the reasons for our presence in the region. They are very welcome to send us their questions. I will be happy to provide further information as needed.