Giving without expecting anything back — Lucila Ramón, Dominican Republic
‘I see everything I do as little seeds we sow, which one day will bear fruit’
A qualified nutritionist from the Dominican Republic, Lucila joined the World Food Programme after applying for the UN volunteer programme when she was studying in Honduras. Here is her story, told as part of a series for World Humanitarian Day (19 August 2017).
“I think the spirit of humanitarian workers is this — giving without expecting anything back,” says Lucila as she reflects on the 19 years she has spent working for the World Food Programme (WFP).
A qualified nutritionist, Lucila started working as a volunteer for WFP in Honduras, where she had been studying for a Master’s degree in Social Work.
Now back in her native Dominican Republic, she coordinates field work in the area of nutrition.
“I am very proud to be part of WFP. In this country, we put a lot of emphasis on nutrition, including ensuring it sits squarely at the heart of the government’s social safety and food-assistance programmes,” explains Lucila. “This way, those who are most vulnerable to hunger, malnutrition, poverty and social exclusion can have access to the nutritious food they need to lead a healthy and active life.
“I see everything I do as little seeds we sow, which one day will bear fruit. Every little step brings us closer to our goal of Zero Hunger, where no one is left behind.”
Lucila’s work involves supporting government schemes to combat malnutrition in young children, pregnant and breastfeeding women and the elderly, as well as creating awareness of healthy eating habits.
“If I had to say what makes me happiest about my job, it would be knowing that I contributed to strengthening the knowledge and capacities of many women on nutrition, so that they can better feed themselves and their families,” says Lucila.
During her time with WFP, Lucila has been faced with tough situations and emergencies. In 1998, while she was working in Choluteca, Honduras, the area was hit by Hurricane Mitch.
“We had just inaugurated a new road — six hours later it was swept away. A woman and her son were buried in the rubble. Luckily, even if she died before she could be rescued, she had managed to breastfeed and protect her baby, who was taken out alive,” recalls Lucila.
Years later, she witnessed the same devastation again in Haiti, where she was deployed to help with the emergency response after the 2010 earthquake.
“We had to distribute food, water and all kinds of assistance to support the victims. It was really hard to see so many people hurt, confused, disheartened. They lacked everything. There were not enough hospital beds, not enough food — and that creates a sense of uncertainty, of desolation,” says Lucila. “But there was no time to contemplate. At times like that, you need to keep going, you need to act to give the best support you can.”
Original interview by Fernando Salazar, WFP Dominican Republic.
Learn more about WFP’s work in the Dominican Republic.