Internship Report: Catholic Relief Services
In Summer 2017, I worked with the Catholic Relief Services in Liberia. They were expanding their peacebuilding programming, and needed someone with experience and theoretical knowledge in the field. My initial project was to assist in writing a grant proposal to address a million dollar UN Peacebuilding Fund request for proposals (RFP). I had done extensive research on Liberia before arriving, so I worked first with a consultant and CRS' implementing partners on the conflict analysis that would provide the foundation for the rest of the proposal. I was then tasked with generating activities that would be the main focus of the proposal. The activities and rationale behind them were accepted by the CRS technical team, and our proposal was one of two that CRS headquarters tendered to the UN.
As soon as that was completed, I was given the task of doing the background research on another RFP from the Department for International Development (DfID). I determined that the work requested was outside the current capacity of CRS Liberia, so we did not proceed with that proposal. As I wrapped up that report, CRS was beginning to roll out a USAID-funded social cohesion project. This was the first peacebuilding project for the CRS team, and it required a baseline survey to measure social cohesion. I have some background in social cohesion projects, so I developed the baseline tools and questions. This was done in consultation with the team and the implementing partners to ensure the questions were understandable and contextually appropriate. These tools were accepted by the USAID monitoring and evaluation team, so we progressed to the data collection stage. I went along on the trip in order to see more of the country and get a better feel for the issues that the project aimed to address.
During my final two weeks with CRS, I participated in a social cohesion methodology training of trainers that had been developed by CRS's Africa Peace and Justice Working Group. It came out of social cohesion work that had been utilized in the Central African Republic, where CRS has responded to the need for the integration of social cohesion interventions through the use of dialogue and trust-building meetings with predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels and mostly Christian Anti-Balaka militias. The methodology utilizes appreciative inquiry techniques to work through the social cohesion methods of binding, bonding, and bridging. It was a very innovative and powerful training that I was fortunate to be a part of. I am now certified as a trainer in this methodology.
This experience was an excellent addition to my professional development. The country representative and the head of programs were both pleased with my work. I have lived all over the world, but I had never lived in sub-Saharan Africa before. It seems to me as though this is one of the areas of the world with the highest amount of need, but I never thought I would be able to live in the region. This experience in Liberia made me realize that I can live in sub-Saharan Africa, and work in areas where the need is the greatest. I now feel strongly that I could serve the public good anywhere in the world, wherever my experience and background would serve best.