Piera Montanari is POS Functionnal Manager at Kering. She is based in Paris. She took a Solidarity Leave on August 2016 and helped a Guatemalan NGO called Mercado Global. This is her story:
What did you bring to the mission?
In those two week we worked with “Mercado Global” a Guatemalan NGO (https://www.mercadoglobal.org/) that produces products fully handmade by local artisans for the international market. I offered my Project Management skills to improve internal communication and increase the satisfaction of the different teams (Design Team, Marketing Team, Production and Training Team). The objective was to give them the necessary tools and suggestions to organize more efficiently their activities and manage work meetings well.
What did this mission bring to you?
A solidarity leave is an eye-opening, gut-wrenching, emotional roller coaster. My best memories of this adventure are for sure the colors and the people:
Colours – Everything there was so colorful that is almost a shock for the eyes. The handmade women dresses, the cotton threads and the fabrics in the market stands, fruits and vegetables, the painting on the walls, the vegetation and the flowers. I felt so poor there with my black-blue-gray-white industrial clothes. Colors there are not only the expression of life, but of the joy of living.
People – I’ve met a lot of people there, but the most incredible are the local ones. I was impressed by Eduardo, a Guatemalan 24-year old guy that had been selected among 20,000 students to spend two years studying in the US. After his studies in agriculture, he chose to go back to his little Guatemalan community, in the middle of nowhere, and open a farm. Every day he gets up at 4AM to work in the farm, in the afternoon he goes to the NGO to help with the Spanish-English translation. Another very strong moment was during the lunch organized in the office by the team of Mercado Global the day before we left. We ate in the garden pasta, grilled meat and guacamole, sitting on the grass freshly cut with the plate on our knees, with the fork, but not the knife: a pick-nick in perfect Guatemalan style. In that moment I realized that the team was not only an organization, but a big family.
They remembered to me that regardless of how you dress, how much money you earn, the essential thing is the joy of living.