“Off the beaten path”

Meet the Alumni: Rosa Duran

February 24 2020

Rosa Duran (26), alumna of the Amsterdam BBA (2014) and Master in Management (2016), headed to the Greek island of Lesbos in 2018 to help with the reception of refugees. Now, a year and a half later, she is a coordinator at the aid organization Movement on the Ground. This organization takes a disruptive approach to providing assistance to refugees, which means: more impact than traditional organizations, with fewer resources.

Outside the bubble

When Rosa was in the Netherlands visiting friends and family, we spoke to her about her work and the situation on Lesbos. She told us that while writing her Master’s thesis, she was seeking a challenge outside the “bubble” of Nyenrode. Rosa explains: “I had the very strong urge to do something for others.”

A camp bursting at the seams

Around 20,000 asylum seekers currently live at camp Moria, the largest camp in Greece, but there is actually only room for 3,300 people. Despite the 2016 Turkey deal, in which Turkey agreed to accept more migrants and better patrol its borders, people keep pouring in. Camp Moria is literally bursting at the seams. Aid workers hand out summer tents and an increasing number of people are settling outside the gates of the official camp. Some 12,000 people – 45% of whom are children – now live in a hillside area nearby called the Olive Grove. Rosa explains: “It’s frustrating to see people living in such conditions, so I’m glad that those of us working with Movement on the Ground can improve these circumstances.”

Movement on the Ground aims to improve the dignity of the living conditions for refugees by developing infrastructure, building communities and running programs. Examples of these programs include a football program, a computer course and a “store” where newly arrived asylum seekers can pick out clothing. Rosa: “Families are given an hour to choose their items. We try to make it look like a store as much as possible, so that they really feel like they are just doing some shopping. This gives them back their sense of human dignity.”

Nyenrode skills

Movement on the Ground takes an innovative approach, for example by entering into partnerships with initiatives led by parties such as IBM and Harvard. The organization also works intuitively, acting based on the needs of residents in the refugee camps. Rosa: “I learned that innovative and intuitive mindset at Nyenrode: responding quickly and immediately, and daring to think outside the box!” In her role at the aid organization, Rosa leads a team of coordinators. “During my studies I also learned how to deal with people, how and when to be diplomatic, and how to engage in both short-term and long-term thinking.”

Rosa would like to encourage students to get involved with an aid organization. “I chose to do volunteer work, but you can make a huge impact through a commercial organization as well.” She stresses that the collaboration between commercial and social organizations is essential: “We can learn a lot from each other, and only by working together can we make a big difference.” Finally, Rosa adds: “The founders of Movement on the Ground come from the business world, and that’s what makes the organization so powerful.”

The future

Rosa is grateful for the work she is able to do. “I’ve been very fortunate in my life, so it feels good to give something back.” Rosa cannot predict how long the situation on Lesbos will last. “I hope that aid organizations like ours will eventually no longer be needed here on the island, and that people will no longer have to live in these conditions. Until that happens, I will continue my efforts.”

Rosa foto

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