Do you have any of those one of a kind individuals you feel so fortunate to have met in your life? Well, for me, that person is Linda Saturno. Linda is a social worker for Peace Corps who has devoted her life to help those in need. Linda is a selfless, caring and remarkable woman. I had the privilege of meeting Linda last spring as she was embarking on her next project. Linda is working to improve the child protection system in Saint Lucia. Her dedication to serving others inspires me. Through this interview, I hope you can learn about the incredible work that Linda does for others.
Tell me about your job with the Peace Corps?
I am currently working as a Peace Corps Response Volunteer, Social Work Specialist, assigned to the Government of Saint Lucia to assist in improving the child protection system. The needs are tremendous. I am presently working on multiple projects. I am facilitating the review and documentation of case management protocols and procedures. This will lead to a wide variety of process improvement initiatives, including review of protocols with the police, hospital, courts and probation. I am also facilitating a high level working group to write policy on how to care for and manage babies born to incarcerated women. In addition, I am leading training for parents who have children within the child protection system; conducting community trainings on how to prevent child sexual abuse; and coaching human services managers on performance related issues.
What did you do at UNICEF?
My first assignment as UNICEF child protection consultant was to conduct an analysis on child labor in the cotton industry in Uzbekistan and to develop a strategy to progressively eliminate it. Most of the elements of the strategy were put in place and now no child under the age of 16 is forced to work in the cotton fields. I then was hired as the Social Policy and Economic Specialist for UNICEF in Uzbekistan where I worked with government officials to analyze and address the socially and economically driven problems associated with child poverty. In addition, I worked to increase the child rights monitoring and planning capacities of non-profit organizations. I also had the opportunity to serve as the Interim Head of Office for UNICEF in Sukhumi, Abkhazia (formerly part of the Republic of Georgia).
How did you get started working in the humanitarian field?
I have been volunteering for humanitarian causes since I was twelve years old. I’ve always felt that calling. But soon after the loss of my only child in a car accident in 2006, I felt an immensely strong pull to help children who were in greatest need. I accepted that the work could take me anywhere in the world, and although that has been scary at times, I’ve always had faith that I would be exactly where I needed to be. So one thing led to another and I found myself working as a child protection consultant for UNICEF in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Where was your favorite place to travel for your job?
Favorite places for me don’t always entail excitement and glamour. Most often, I think of a place as “favorite” if it made me think and impacted me in some profound way. Most of the places I would call favorite have not been on the beaten path. I very much appreciated my walks down the side streets of Sarajevo, Bosnia. I imagined what it must have been like to live through the Bosnian war. Other favorite places I visited include the ancient cave where Saint Simon lived in the Caucus Mountains near Abkhazia; the 1,000 year old cliff-side Sumela monastery near Trabzon, Turkey; and a remote, undisturbed beach in Thailand where I watched wild elephants traverse the hillside.
If you have a favorite quote, what is it?
“If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
What is your favorite book?
Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl
Photographs from Linda's travels across the world...