A reflection by Anna Taylor, M.A. (’13)
As part of my M.A. in peace and justice studies, I was afforded the opportunity to complete my summer internship with 2012 IPJ Woman PeaceMaker Ludmila Popovici, the founder and executive director of the Rehabilitation Center of Torture Victims (RCTV) Memoria. The center is located in Chisinau, the capital of the Republic of Moldova, and provides medical, psychological and legal services to torture victims among (1) former political prisoners, (2) refugees and asylum seekers, and (3) recent victims from Moldova, including the separatist region of Transnistria.
I was immediately impressed by Ludmila’s knowledge and dedication to advocacy, not only for the rights of her clients, but also to the greater systemic issues related to torture. She is an outspoken champion for the right of rehabilitation for torture survivors, as well as for the abolishment of torture altogether. Because RCTV Memoria is Moldova’s only rehabilitation center for victims of torture, Ludmila works constantly at both the local and national level to raise awareness and change policy. As Moldova’s native expert on the topic of rehabilitation for victims of torture, her expertise is frequently called upon by the media, national government and international organizations — which in turn gave me an invaluable practical experience as an intern at RCTV Memoria.
Ludmila was very dedicated to ensuring that I had a productive and rewarding internship. In the office I worked directly with Memoria’s project coordinator on external and internal documents and projects, and with Ludmila editing her new book, Broken Wings, which chronicles the testimonies of 10 young people who were victims of police violence and torture during Moldova’s April 2009 election protests.
Outside the office I had the opportunity to attend several events and meetings which brought to light the larger context of Memoria’s work. I participated in two closed meetings between Ludmila and a handful of United Nations experts in Moldova, including the U.N. Resident Coordinator. I was also invited to attend the “Forum of Non-governmental Organizations of the Republic of Moldova,” where members of Moldova’s civil society and government came together to discuss current challenges. I also traveled with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) into the separatist region of Transnistria, an area in eastern Moldova which has operated with de-facto independence since the War of Transnistria ended in 1992, and from which a portion of Memoria’s beneficiaries originate.
As a student at the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, I am incredibly fortunate to have access to the opportunities provided by the school’s unique relationship with the Institute for Peace & Justice. Thanks to the Women PeaceMakers Program, I was able to connect with Ms. Popovici, a powerful advocate for human rights and a generous and dedicated host.