No Choice But to Move Forward When Overcoming Adversity

No Choice But to Move Forward When Overcoming Adversity 

Natalia Pascual, Regional Capacity Building Officer for Emergency and Post Crisis for IOM in Panamá 


I began my career in the humanitarian sector in Kosovo in 2000 and over the past 19 years, I have built my career tackling the complex reality of migration in countries such as Colombia, Sudan, Sri Lanka and Kenya. In Panamá, I assist in the management of temporary accommodation centres for migrants in need and lead workshops to strengthen institutional migration governance. 

Empathy has become my main tool and message in my work with migrants. As a mother of two children, I see myself and my children in the faces of the people I serve who endure the greatest adversities to reach their goals and have a safer life. 

I can identify with people searching for opportunities just like I have. I understand that sometimes this process is hindered by external factors they cannot control or needs they cannot meet, but there is no choice but to move forward. 

I strive to equip communities with the tools and resilience necessary to overcome adverse situations. As a woman, I have experienced challenges when interacting with different cultures where female figures are not seen as empowered. In some contexts, women involved in humanitarian work have been given negative labels. Contrary to what many people think, we have high ethical and technical standards that enable us to work in situations of great complexity.  

Over the years I’ve witnessed a positive evolution of the humanitarian sector where greater accountability is being afforded to affected populations. This gives people more of a voice and gives the international community more responsibility and commitment to the people they’re serving. 

My career has given me the opportunity to connect and learn from people, their stories and experiences. This part of my work is what I value the most.