Alternative worlds

One university event she will never forget is the seminar she co-organized on Polish development aid entitled „Poland is Paradise”. Janina Ochojska, founder of the Polish Humanitarian Action was among the participants. Having such a prominent figure come and speak at our seminar was a major success for us. For me personally it was a major inspiration to get involved in those issues that relate to developing countries.

Professors at WSB-NLU made Marta realize that there is no one „revealed” truth in life. Encouragement of critical analysis when looking at the world around us and sensitivity in seeking the truth, opened before me the whole diversity of other, equally interesting realities. It was also during my studies that I met my future husband. Darek quickly grasped my attention, simply because such men are difficult to find today. Honorable, caring, with strong moral spine, and on top of all that – incredibly handsome.

During her third year at the university, she went for a conference in Macedonia. Ten years from the end of the war in the former Yugoslavia, and four years after the war and NATO intervention in Kosovo, she met people who took part in those blood events. It made a lasting impression on her and motivated Marta to learn more about the situation in the Balkans. Who, why and for what reasons?

She came back to the Balkans, this time visiting Pristina, the capital of Kosovo. This fascination remained. Her master’s dissertation treated on the then unsettled future status of Kosovo, and aimed to present both the Serb and Albanian perspectives on that matter.

With strong interest in the Balkan region, she looked for Polish NGOs working in that field. Mrs. Alicja Derkowska, chairwoman of the Educational Society of Małopolska (MTO), quickly found in Marta a true “soul mate”. That was for her the start of a more than two-year adventure as a volunteer, and later full-time member of MTO. Mrs. Derkowska, full of enthusiasm and will to help others, gave Marta the conviction that if one truly believes in something, nothing is impossible and even the sky is no limit. At first, Marta was responsible for communication in MTO, only to become a coordinator of educational projects run in the Balkans, Ukraine and Moldova.

Successful application was the reason why Marta came to Warsaw for an internship at the European Commission Office, and later moved to Brussels to work for one of Poland’s regions there. She then had a brief encounter working for the Council of the European Union as liaison between EU Member States and EU’s civilian missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

This last experience helped Marta remember that, which was once her true passion: helping developing countries. The experiences I gained at the Council motivated me to start new studies in “Culture and Development” at the Catholic University of Leuven. It was a time of constant reflection: how best (if at all) can we assess the needs of those living in the least developed countries. How to make sure that development assistance is determined by the real needs of real people and not by politics, unofficial mechanisms and available aid. This complemented well the experience I have gained at MTO.

Although Marta recently started working for the European Commission, she never ceased to think about work that would allow her to carry on her true passion, changing the world. She wants to make use of her expertise in communication and combine it with all that she learned through her studies – all to help the least developed and developing countries. She wants to go back to working for an NGO, where initiative, resourcefulness and the will to change the world for the better are still valued. For some time I have been in touch with a local NGO in South Sudan. My second master’s dissertation will deal with local communities and their role in building peace and stability in this “youngest” of world’s states. I also still dream about going to Afghanistan, and once there, a journey through the Hindu Kush.