My tale as an MTS intern
Working with Mother Teresa Society (MTS) was an unforgettable experience. I have worked as an intern many times throughout my academic career but this internship by far offered the most administrative and field experience. By this I mean, not only was I learning the daily requirements to operate a local NGO but was also made aware and knowledgeable of cultural/societal practices of the people/clients of Mother Teresa Society.
Knowing the culture and society of which the people you work with is instrumental for the NGO to be successful among these populations. Mother Teresa Society staff is highly revered for being close to their clients-knowing their names, families, background and struggles- and the MTS staff knew in order for interns to offer their services as well as walk away with a good experience would first need to learn about MTS clients and the culture/society in which they are immersed.
ANDREA L. DANKERT
Master’s Candidate at the New School of New York
Intern at Mother Teresa Society June-July 2011
In order for me to gain an understanding of MTS clients I was privileged enough to accompany staff on their fieldwork to visit clients multiple times. One of my first fieldwork experience was in my first week, just on the outskirts of Pristina, we visited a few families, candidates for up and coming MTS projects. The first family we met had just had their house burned down by a faulty electrical wiring that dangled dangerously above their now destroyed home. This family, a mother, father, and 5 children were now sharing one bed at night in a small bread hut. The purpose of this visit was to bring the children some new clothes and bring cooking supplies/food for the family.
MTS has many projects that they implement annually, one of them being a housing project supported by MTS Switzerland. To date, the collaborative efforts of MTS Kosovo and Switzerland have built 200+ homes for people in Kosovo. About a month after visiting this family who had lost their home in a fire, it was decided that this family out of many candidates would receive a brand new home. This, for me, really put into perspective the scope of what MTS does for the people they help. Having personally met this family, makes the work that MTS does that much more tangible. I wish I could have stayed longer with MTS to witness this house being built for this family.
Like all NGOs, much of the work happens in the office, working on projects and programs, finding funding, communicating with donors, etc. The internship at Mother Teresa Society is a delicate balance of office administrative work and fieldwork experience. Though this may be overwhelming at first, both aspects of this internship are essential to truly understanding how MTS helps the people they work with.
Though I greatly enjoyed working in the field and meeting clients, there are limitless benefits to working in the office. I was given some administrative responsibilities and I was able to work at my own time and pace. If I ever needed any help or needed to understand something, staff member and friend Mirlinda Gojani always dropped what she was doing to help.
Interning with MTS I had a range of assignments and duties that fostered and equipped me with skills and abilities transferrable for my future career. Throughout my internship, I recorded the skills and experience obtained:
Activism/organizing, Editing documents, Programming/ event planning, Fundraising, Information Management/ Technology, Media Creation/ Dissemination, Program Evaluation/ Quality Control (SWOT draft), Research and analysis, Proposal and Grant writing, Writing Reports/concept notes/ policy briefs, Marketing/ communications/ outreach, Project planning/ management –anti-poverty strategy.
Above all, the most delightful experience of MTS was the staff, in particular Mirlinda Gojani. Many staff members put their heart and soul into MTS, but no more so than Mirlinda. I worked closely with Mirlinda, as she is the internship supervisor, and got to know her well. She is a valuable asset to MTS and she is dedicated to ensuring the organization continues to flourish thereby continuing to help MTS clients.
Overall the experience at MTS was a fulfilling and happy one. I was sad to leave at the end of my internship and hope to visit again someday. I wish the best for all MTS staff, which now includes Sara Koenig for the next few months (YAY!!), and hope to see Mother Teresa Society around for many, many more years.