Tag Archives: CRS

Catholic Relief Services 2018 International Peace and Development Travel Scholarship Program

Catholic Relief Services has selected three graduate students from Fordham University to participate in the 2018 International Peace and Development Travel Scholarship Program. All three students are graduating from Fordham’s Graduate Program in International Political Economy and Development and are being assigned to work with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in Haiti, Burkina Faso, and the Philippines.

Starting in January 2018, Ms. Theresa Hart will be working at the CRS Office in Manila in the Philippines. She will be assisting in the monitoring of various developing projects that CRS is sponsoring in Indonesia, Micronesia and in East Timor. Prior to her studies at Fordham, she served as a Jesuit Volunteer in Micronesia. Tess is from the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph in Missouri.

After the Christmas break, Mr. Owen Fitzgerald will be heading out to Burkina Faso in West Africa, a very arid nation that faces serious agricultural issues. He will be assisting CRS on promoting both food security and better sanitation through the school system. Prior to his studies at Fordham, Owen served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in neighboring Mali. Owen is originally from the Diocese of Metuchen in New Jersey.

Finally, Ms. Liia Khalikova is being assigned to CRS in Haiti. Haiti has suffered a number of natural disasters in recent years and Liia will be assisting them with their communications strategy. Liia comes from Tartarstan which is part of the Russian Federation. She is studying at Fordham on a Fulbright Fellowship.

While at Fordham these students have specialized in international development as well as in the management and assessment of development projects.

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Armand Aquino ’17 with Catholic Relief Services in Senegal

By: Armand Aquino ’17

Armand inside Phare des Mamelles, the highest point in Dakar and the second most important lighthouse in Africa, after Cape Town’s lighthouse.

Last May 9-12, I participated in Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS) first ProPack I training in French in Dakar, Senegal. ProPack I (or Project Package I) is one of CRS’ manuals on project design for CRS project and program managers. The training gathered more than 30 CRS staff from the West Africa and Central Africa country offices including Burkina Faso (where I currently serve as a Fordham Intern), Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, and Senegal, among others.

Fresh off the press. Armand with the French copy of CRS’ ProPack I.

I first came across CRS’ ProPack I in Dr. Schwalbenberg’s Project Design class where I learned the basic concepts of project design including problem tree analysis and the logical frameworks. The training, however, had more concepts added and it made these concepts more “practical” because they fall in a specific process of project design that CRS staff ought to follow. The process of project design itself was the most useful take-away for me, since I tend to jump from one step to another, when in fact, there is a logical flow that could make the work easier. For instance, when given an issue or problem, I tend to start with a problem tree analysis to identify the causes of the problem. However, conceptual frameworks can already do that for you since it has already made the connections between factors and the problem. What one can do then is to use these conceptual frameworks to specify the causes (scope, gravity, etc.) through research and assessment that will then help make the problem tree more “meaty” and easily convertible to a tangible results framework for the project.

ProPack I training in Dakar, Senegal where CRS staff gathered to learn and share experiences in project design.

In addition to the content, the facilitation of the training which used real-life examples and the opportunity to hear from the experience of various CRS staff in project design were enriching; it made the concepts more real and easier to understand. The training was also a great opportunity to continue practicing my French language skills since everything, including lectures, readings, and group work, was conducted in French and to network with some CRS staff in the region. I must admit I had a little difficulty in following some parts of the discussion since I am not yet fluent in the language. But what really helped me prepare for the training was reading the English version of ProPack I in advance so I have the concepts at the back of my head and I do the translation and connection in French as the training goes. Additionally, it was definitely helpful to have some experience in project design that I could bank on during the training (As an intern, I am involved in a couple of project design initiatives for the Burkina Faso country program).

Armand inside Phare des Mamelles, the highest point in Dakar and the second most important lighthouse in Africa, after Cape Town’s lighthouse.

Given the adventurer in me, I also used this opportunity to visit some superlative places in Dakar and get immersed for a bit in its history and culture. I visited the highest point in Dakar and the furthest West tip of the African continent.

When one is in Dakar, one should not miss Île de Gorée, a colorful island with a very dark history because of the slave trade.

I would like to thank CRS West Africa Regional Office and Burkina Faso Country Office for allowing me to participate in the training and Fordham IPED for financing my participation in the training. The training was definitely a good investment as I continue to explore a long-term career in the international development space.

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Summer Series: Crisostomo Ala ’18 and CRS Ecuador

By: Crisostomo Ala ’18

The purpose of my internship with CRS Ecuador is twofold: to gain work experience, insight, and involvement in the development sector and to understand the field operations of development NGOs whom I used to collaborate with when I worked for the consulting industry.

Upon my arrival in Ecuador, I was sent to Esmeraldas from Quito to support the shelter, water, and sanitation project of CRS which provided low cost housing and latrines to the most vulnerable communities affected by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake of April 2016. The city was characterized by economic activity limited to the production and sale of mostly agricultural goods and also, by poor infrastructure investments concretized by unfinished buildings along the province’s coastline. Esmeraldas is locally known as a tourist destination and such investments were intended to be profitable hotels and tourist attractions. However, after last year’s calamity, they were immediately abandoned placing a great strain on the area’s economic development.

I was assigned to the project’s operations where we had to acquire raw material to manufacture into housing parts that can be delivered and assembled on site. I handled inventory, monitoring and evaluation of delivered parts, and payroll of drivers who delivered these parts. My main role was to ensure that the beneficiaries received the correct amount of parts and in good quality for them to be able to construct their houses. By fulfilling my role, I was able to be involved in the implementation of the project on the ground. Furthermore, I was also able to observe how the specific process I handled was integrated to the project as a whole and how each procedure was meant to ensure donors that budgets are being spent in a cost-effective manner. The main purpose of this was to optimize operations so that the least amount of money was being spent while retaining the same level of quality in project delivery. In essence, the goal was to spend optimally so that the savings from one project can be used in other program efforts.

As such, by contributing the operations side of the project, I was able to gather sufficient understanding of how projects are executed on the ground. I can use such experience in the future when applying for career opportunities in development NGOs, like CRS and other similar organizations as well.

Moreover, apart from merely being part of the process ensuring seamless transactions at the operational level, I was also enabled to observe and understand how NGOs function at the field level. Previous work experience in the consulting industry taught me that the performance of NGOs is measured by the utility they bring and the cost-effectiveness of their operations. I was able to observe this from the HR side for the past 6 years, how one can improve operations while optimizing salaries and benefits, one of the biggest costs of an organization. Similarly, from this internship, I was able to learn the importance of cost optimization not just at the regional level, but also at the field level when it came to the execution of procurement transactions of raw materials for a shelter and water sanitation project. It was indeed a learning experience for me as it provided the link I was searching for between field operations and regional operations.

Overall, it was an experience filled with lessons both on international development level and actual project implementation on the ground. This internship trained me to respond to unforeseen circumstances in the field and have contingency plans in place for such instances which will be very helpful for either a career in development or HR consulting. Being involved at the field level allows one to understand local circumstances, gain anticipatory insight in project development, and adapt project execution to the local level whenever circumstance dictates to ensure seamless delivery.

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2017 Swanstrom-Baerwald Award Ceremony

From the left: Dr. Schwalbenberg, the Permanent Observer to the Holy See Mission to the United Nations Archbishop Auza, Ms. Elizabeth Pfifer, President of Fordham University Father McShane, and Vice President of Catholic Relief Services David Palasits.

On March 8th, Fordham IPED had the honor of hosting the Swanstrom-Baerwald Award Ceremony on Rose Hill Campus. In conjunction with the Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Fordham awarded Elizabeth “Liz” Pfifer the prestigious award in honor of her selfless dedication to her relief and development work throughout Africa. For a full synopsis of the ceremony and Ms. Pfifer’s accomplishments, please follow this link to the Fordham News article covering the event.

The full auditorium there to celebrate Ms. Pfifer’s accomplishments

The award on the table during Father McShane’s speech praising the work Ms. Pfifer has done

Dr. Schwalbenberg introducing the award and our distinguished awardee.

IPED in attendance

Later in the evening there were two more awards presented to Mr. Osvaldo Hernandez and Ms. Lois Harr. Mr. Hernandez was awarded the Cardinal McCarrick Fellowship Travel Award, honoring the Cardinal’s work with CRS on behalf of peace and development. The fellowship will enable Mr. Hernandez to visit Fordham IPED graduate students completing field assignments with CRS in Africa so that he can experience first-hand the official international humanitarian work of the American Catholic community.

Mr. Hernandez receiving the Cardinal McCarrick Travel Fellowship Award

Ms. Harr was presented the John F. Hurley S.J. Commendation, honoring her work promoting the CRS in the United States. Please follow this link to an article covering the award and Ms. Harr’s work.

Ms. Lois Carr receiving her award, the John F. Hurley S.J. Commendation

Of course, it was an IPED event and we found time to have some fun, too.

Kelsey Garcia, IPED ’18 holding the flags of the UN, USA, and Morocco, her country of service in the Peace Corps.

Some of the IPEDers involved in a case of gender imbalance, upon request of Queen Viktoria Brezheniuk (center)

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Three IPED Graduates selected for CRS International Development Fellows Program

3 crs fellows

Three recent Fordham IPED graduates were selected for the Catholic Relief ServicesInternational Development Fellows Program (CRS IDFP) for 2016. Camille Tacastacas, Veronica Muoio, and Josh Voges (IPED 2016) were among the roughly 25 fellows selected from hundreds of applicants for this year’s IDFP. The IDFP is a year-long program that provides a fast-track for people interested in careers in international relief and development via experience working in CRS’ programs overseas.

 

Joshua Voges

Josh was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco. As an Arrupe Fellow in the Fordham IPED program, he interned with the UNDP Equator Initiative.  Josh is currently interning with CRS’ office in Senegal, where he serves as Program Quality and Growth Fellow.

 

IMG_0496 (1)

Pictured here in the Philippines, Veronica served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Jordan. She joined Fordham IPED on a Peace Corps Coverdell Fellowship and interned with the Fordham Road Business Improvement District. Veronica currently works with the United Nation’s Development Programme’s Gender Team.


camille

Camille was Jesuit Volunteer from the Philippines, and joined the Fordham IPED program on a Presidential Scholarship. Camille is currently interning with CRS Sierra Leone, where she assists in their Infant and Young Child Feeding and Integrated Management of Acute Malnutrition Program.

Veronica has received an offer to join CRS’ office in Lebanon, Camille in CRS Malawi, and Josh in CRS Rwanda. Their deployment to these country offices is set to begin in August.

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