Tuesday, June 18, 2013

It is important to make sure the kids value their godparents and everything that they do for them even though they cannot see them.

Mariney Ocampo is currently the Head of the International Sponsorship Department at NPH Mexico. Born in the United States to Mexican parents, Mariney lived in California until she was one year old. Her family on her father’s side of the family lives in the United States while her family on her mother´s side of the family lives in Cuernavaca, Mexico. In Mexico, at the age of four she was enrolled in a bilingual school where she began to learn English, and at the age of nine she began to study French at a local language center. Since she was young, her dream has always been to be an interpreter, and her biggest goal - to interpret for the United Nations.

Mariney studied International Relations at the International University in Cuernavaca. During this time, she also studied German, Italian, and Russian. She received a scholarship to participate in an exchange program through Virginia Tech where she studied International Development before returning to Cuernavaca where she graduated in 2004. In 2005, she began to work for a German NGO, CBM, in Cuernavaca whose mission is to support local projects for the benefit of disabled people in poor countries. Mariney worked as the coordinator of the projects in the Caribbean for three and a half years. After her experience with this company, she moved to England where she received her Master’s degree in Conflict Resolution, a branch of International Relations, at the University of Bradford. During this time she was also able to study Arab with a friend from Syria who was also living in England.

Following her graduation from Bradford in 2010, Mariney returned to work with CBM to aid in their relief efforts after the earthquake in Haiti that year. The organization opened an office in Haiti, and she worked in displacement camps there for six months. Because there was no infrastructure, the people had gone to live in plazas and parks, and it was in those displacement camps, or “tent cities,” where she helped coordinate the construction of infant shelters. Since there were no schools, hospitals, or homes remaining, health, educational, and rehabilitation services were offered in the tent cities. Mariney’s job was to hire people to install structures for the thousands of orphaned children, where they could receive meals, shelter, and therapy. At the end of 2010, after the heavy experience in Haiti, she returned to Cuernavaca because of her desire to be with her family.

She began her job search, only knowing that, “I wanted to work for a non-profit because I had always worked in this sector. I was never involved in the governmental or private sector because I have always liked philanthropy.” She found an opening at NPH, not realizing that Nos Petit Frères et Soeurs (the organization that built Saint Damien’s Hospital in Haiti, which had survived the earthquake and where she had gone to attend meetings while working in Haiti) was not a French or Haitian organization but had originated in her home country of Mexico, and in Spanish was called Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos™, or NPH. Having come to this realization, Mariney was very interested in the position, came in for an interview and had a tour of the home in Miacatlán. She fell in love with the home and the social objectives only to begin working as the Volunteer and Visitor Coordinator in March of 2011.

Mariney held that position until December of 2011 when she began to work in the sponsorship office because she was asked to support in the transition of the retirement of the previous Director of Sponsorship of 28 years, Mayi. Mariney worked as the assistant to the director for six months, and in June of 2012 Mayi invited Mariney to be the Head of the International Sponsorship Department. Day to day, she dedicates herself to obtaining new international sponsors, or godparents, for the children of NPH Mexico. Every day there are new requests for sponsorship, and it is her responsibility, along with her team of three, to facilitate communication between the children and their godparents. Every day they receive letters and packages from International Sponsors, and together they work with the children to write letters, thank you responses, translate them, and send the responses. Another part of Mariney’s job, and one that she enjoys a lot, is being responsible for the organizing of the spending of the “Sharing Fund.” This is a fund made up of monetary gifts received by international sponsors and used to fund activities and celebrations in the home. Mariney has the responsibility of giving out birthday money at the end of each month, Christmas money during the holidays, allocating money towards activities like BBQs, First Communions, summer activities such as ceramics, taekwondo and theatre.

Mariney says one of the biggest challenges of her work, but one that she fully enjoys, is that “this office is a bridge between the godparents who are far away and the children who are here. We have to make an effort to build those relationships from a distance, and to create a consciousness in the kids because to them the sponsors are so far away that they are almost invisible. It is important to make sure the kids value their godparents and everything that they do for them even though they cannot see them. We are also going to begin the Godparents Party so that the children realize that all the good things that they have here, and it this is an important part of that. It is a way to show thanks to their godparents.”

What she likes most about her job is knowing that her work helps so many children and having the opportunity to get closer to the kids, "I enjoy knowing that the money from the godparents is spent on fun for the kids and knowing that my work has an impact, and helping to ensure that this can continue to benefit the children. I think about that every day. If it is a boring, or sad, or a busy day, I always remember that I am working for all the children that are here, and that is what I like."

Mariney is about to complete one year in her position as Head of the International Sponsorship Department and we would like to congratulate her on this mark in her career at NPH and thank her for all her hard work and dedication that she has given to us.

Reported by Elizabeth Caletka, Communications Officer

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