Interviews

"Haiti has the highest maternal mortality rate in the whole of the Americas and 80% of pregnancies are high risk"
Foto: UOC
06/07/2017
Marian Antn
Margarita Maura, student on the Master's Degree in Legal Practice and volunteer in the NGO Flores de Kiskeya

 

Flores de Kiskeya is a not-for-profit organization that helps adult and adolescent women in Haiti. We have spoken to one of its volunteers, Margarita Maura, to find out about the project she has been helping with in Peru while also continuing her studies on the Master's Degree in Legal Practice.

 

How was Flores de Kiskeya created?

It is a not-for-profit organization created to help the most vulnerable pregnant adult and adolescent women in Haiti, specifically in the region of Anse--Pitres, offering them emotional, physical and psychological support during pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period. It was created just over a year ago. Its founder, Romana Prez-Caballero, had gone there to work as a volunteer but when she returned to Madrid something had changed in her. She decided to leave her job and return to Haiti as a volunteer. She worked on some projects and discovered the conditions experienced and suffered by many mothers, especially in Anse--Pitres, over 300 kilometres from the capital. They lack access to hospitals and medical centres since these are non-existent. An accumulation of experiences helped her create Flores de Kiskeya.

Tell us more about the situation of women there.

It has the highest maternal mortality rate in the whole of the Americas: most pregnant women give birth without any medical tests during pregnancy, in poor health conditions, such as severe anaemia or pre-eclampsia. Moreover, today in many communities women are still often victims of abuse and rape. UN data establishes that 80% of pregnancies are high risk. Moreover, the infant mortality rate is 59 deaths per 1,000 births. It is the highest infant mortality rate in the Americas. Eighty per cent of the population live below the poverty line.

What is this NGO doing?

The association proposes solutions to a community where women are often victims of abuse and rape. Flores de Kiskeya also works to give them medical and nutritional assistance and offers them training and advice to facilitate self-employment and make the association's own projects self-sustaining. Our mission is to offer wide-ranging support to Haitian pregnant women and their children with the local community as the basic engine of change. We promote women's dignity in contexts of violence, racism and poverty and we want to show that the right to be born in decent conditions and in an appropriate environment is the first essential step in life that every human being deserves.

Who is behind it?

We are organized into two teams: one in Haiti and another in Spain (Madrid). Romana lives in Haiti and she directs the whole project on the ground, with the help of volunteers as well as Haitian workers who help us with the mothers. Moreover, in Madrid we have a group of coordinators who meet every month to deal with all the affairs of the association. Each one has a function (marketing, projects, social media, accounting, fundraising, etc.). We are all young people who devote our free time to the project absolutely altruistically. For everything to work on the ground, it is very important that we also carry out constant work and monitoring in Spain.

What is your role?

I am the only one not physically in Madrid but I maintain constant contact with the other coordinators. I am Head of Fundraising and Projects at Flores de Kiskeya. I am in charge of developing and monitoring the projects and contacting possible private and public organizations and associations to obtain their support and financial aid to carry out and develop our projects. Moreover, I am the Delegate in Majorca: being a native of Majorca I have been able to secure the support of different associations on the island, such as several Rotary Clubs.

How did a student on the Master's Degree in Legal Practice like you end up in this NGO?

Three years ago I was a volunteer in Haiti working in an orphanage where I met Romana and we developed a great friendship. When she began thinking about creating this project she called me to form part of it. I have seen the birth of Flores de Kiskeya and I feel very fortunate.

What was your previous training?

I studied the Bachelor's Degree in Law at the Universitat Internacional de Catalunya (UIC) in Barcelona and, throughout the course, in addition to doing a range of voluntary work in Barcelona at a local level I also did the same in Haiti and India. The courses that most fascinated me were International Public Law and Community Law and I knew I wanted to work in that sector, not only in cooperation but more focused on human rights and international humanitarian law issues.

"I now live in Peru where I am doing an internship in a human rights organization, combining it with the master's degree despite being 9,000 km away"

 

Why did you decide on this UOC master's degree?

During the last four months of my bachelor’s degree I studied in Germany thanks to the Erasmus programme and, when I completed my Law studies, I decided to stay a few more months, working and perfecting my German. I did not want to return to Spain in the short term and I wanted to study the Master's Degree in Legal Practice online. I was looking at all the different programmes available at the state level and the UOC was the one that best suited my needs. I have been living in Peru since March, where I am doing an internship in a human rights organization. From here I can also do the master's degree despite being over 9,000 km away. I am truly lucky.

How has it been until now?

There was no better option for me than to study in a university like the UOC and at the same time be able to combine it with the internship here in Lima. In August I will return to Haiti for a month and then I move to Costa Rica to do a master's degree in International Law and Human Rights at the UN's University for Peace thanks to a UN scholarship. I still have a few courses to do, the final master's degree project and the compulsory internship to complete the Master's Degree in Legal Practice. Once again, being able to do it from there will be quite a challenge but also very convenient. The fact that they even let you do the compulsory internship of the UOC Master's Degree in Legal Practice online also makes it a truly innovative programme, unique in Spain.

If any student is interested in working in the NGO, how can they get involved?

First, I would encourage any student to volunteer not only locally (also very important) but internationally. It is an experience you really cannot explain until you do it. If anyone is interested in volunteering for this NGO please write to us at info@floresdekiskeya.org and we can give you more information. At the moment, we need professionals on the ground from the world of medicine, especially gynaecology. Also any kind of doctor, nurse, psychologist and perhaps educators. But the most difficult and real need is for partners to give us financial aid to go on with the projects in the long term. I encourage any student or professional reading this to visit our website to find out more about our project. They can also follow us on social media, both Facebook and Instagram. It will be a great help if you want to get involved with this great project.

"If you are interested in getting involved as a volunteer, write to info@floresdekiskeya.org and we will send you more information"