You may not be aware but there are some new faces working at Invisible Children these days! We want to take a moment to let you get to know a couple of the newest members of our team.
In our Washington DC headquarters, we’ve loved getting to know the wonderful Nastasia (affectionately known to us as Staz), who came on board a few months ago as our Central Africa Projects Assistant. In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) we’ve had the immense pleasure of getting to know our new Protection Analyst, Ernest.
Nastasia and Ernest play a key role in the day to day operations of our Early Warning Radio Network and LRA Crisis Tracker programs. Together, Ernest and Nastasia collect information about armed group activity shared over the Early Warning Radio Network and do some sleuthing to verify it before it is added to our LRA Crisis Tracker database. Thanks to these two, we’re able to share accurate and up-to-date information with other humanitarian organizations, protection actors, and policymakers, which helps improve the safety of communities across the Central African Republic and DRC.
Recently, we had a chance to sit down with Nastasia and Ernest and ask them a few questions about themselves and what makes their jobs unique. Here’s what they had to share:
First Question: What languages do you speak and how did you learn them?
I speak four languages: French, English, Spanish, and Flemish. Being Belgian-American, I grew up in the U.S. until I was eight, where I learned English and perfected my southern accent, and then lived in Belgium up until last year. Belgium has 3 official languages, French, Flemish, and German, of which the first two are mandatory at school. I learned Spanish in school.
I speak four languages fluently, (French, Swahili, Lingala, and Tshiluba), and am in the process of learning English. In the DRC, French is an official language, so I learned it at school; Swahili, Tshiluba, and Lingala are languages that I learned in the provinces of the country where I lived (Kasai, Kivu and Katanga); Tshiluba is my mother tongue. I study English at home with a tutor.
Nastasia, how did you learn about Invisible Children?
When I was a student, I saw Kony 2012 but didn’t know much about Invisible Children until this year, when a friend of mine recommended me for a position opening at Invisible Children before even asking for my opinion, knowing that I’d love it. At the time, I was just about to accept another job offer, but something told me to accept the chance to learn more about Invisible Children and accept an interview. As I learned more about Invisible Children’s work, I began to realize how amazing it is and that it was meant to be!
Ernest, did you always want to be a Protection Analyst?
Not always. When I was growing up, I decided I wanted to become a Pilot. I always told my friends, my brothers and my parents that’s what I wanted to become. I never was able to learn to fly, but I feel really lucky and excited today to be part of Invisible Children’s work. It’s really rewarding to know that my work is helping make thousands of families safer every day.
What about you, Nastasia? Any lofty childhood dreams?
My dreams were BIG. I wanted to be a truck driver/actress. Very specific. It appealed to my creative side and search for freedom, but essentially, truck drivers seemed to have all the fun.
Ernest, what is a typical workday for you?
My typical day takes place in two stages: Early in the morning, I collect information about violent incidents and human rights violations reported over the Early Warning Radio Network. Then, in the afternoon, I work on analyzing, triangulating, and encoding the data in our Early Warning System so that the information can be shared with other key stakeholders working to improve safety in the area.
Nastasia, what is the best or most inspiring part of your job?
I love working with our team, especially our staff in CAR and DRC. Everyone’s dedication to Invisible Children’s mission and to their work is inspirational. I’ve also gotten the chance to travel to some of our offices in CAR and I’ve loved getting to meet and work with everyone. I also really love the days when we receive news that someone has escaped Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) captivity and that we’ve been able to help them get home safely. I’m really excited to work on some of our trauma healing work as well, since that is an area of particular interest for me and is what my Master’s degree is in.
There you have it, folks. We’re excited to welcome both Nastasia and Ernest to our team!
Programs described in this blog are made possible with the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this post are the sole responsibility of Invisible Children and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.