Carlos Gallardo is Cord’s Multi-Country Project Manager. He oversees our work in Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar. Here’s his story exploring his motivation, formative experiences and what inspires him most about Cord:

Growing up as the youngest of three children, Carlos enjoyed his childhood, playing traditional Filipino games in contrast to the technology dominated experience of many children today. Faith was an important part of his life from an early stage:

“I grew up in a family with a strong Christian faith although my parents were from quite different traditions. I learned the teachings of Jesus from a young age. Being compassionate and doing good to others were, and still are, the Christian values that play a very important part in my life.

When I was 14 years old I started volunteering for the Philippine Red Cross. At this very young age, my eyes were opened to the different development and humanitarian challenges in my country. I was a first aider, emergency responder and from 18, I became a blood donor. I ultimately received the “Blood Galloners Award” – presented to those who had donated a gallon of blood.

Of all the awards and achievements early on in my life this was the one I was most proud of. I was able to share a portion of my life so that others could continue theirs. I went on to have the honour of becoming the youngest member of the Board of Governors for the Philippine Red Cross and was President of their National Youth Council.”

At University Carlos studied Political Science and took courses on International Humanitarian Law. After a year working for Rotary International on a HIV/AIDS project in his province he progressed from volunteer to staff at the Red Cross. His responsibilities were around youth empowerment and volunteer development.

A move to Kenya came some years later through Volunteer Services Overseas.

Carlos was a volunteer for The Nasio Trust for twelve months before serving as Country Director for a further two years.

“I joined Cord in 2015 and it was the work in Myanmar which inspired me to apply.

During that time, Myanmar was opening up from a military government to a democracy.

There was a great need to support civil society organizations and ordinary people through this transition. I oversaw the project “Strengthening Defence of Human Rights” in Cambodia and Myanmar and eventually became the Country Representative of Cambodia.

Cord’s work in South East Asia supporting Human Rights organizations and Human Rights Defenders is of great importance to me personally. Cord’s approach to Human Rights is through peace-building.

Our work is designed to build confidence and engagement between communities and those in positions of power. It’s a unique approach and at times challenging. But, looking at what we have accomplished over the years, I strongly believe that it’s workable and the right approach.

Whenever I think about the impact of our work I always think of Soucheng. Her story sums up why I am so committed to Cord and why our approach inspires me. I had the privileged of working with Soucheng during the “Strengthening Defence of Human Rights” project mentioned above.

She is a strong woman and passionate about her work supporting her community to secure land titles. After a long process, with the support of Cord and other local NGO partners, they have received over 400 land titles. This story is evidence that despite many challenges along the way, there is still hope for a peaceful resolution to land conflicts.”

When he is not working, Carlos loves to walk, run and swim. And, in contrast to his technology free childhood, Carlos confesses to some rather more modern ways of unwinding:

“During long holidays and especially during this pandemic, watching Netflix and playing Super Mario computer games help me to disconnect from reality. Yes playing Super Mario! Hahaha.

Thank you to all who donate and pray for the work of Cord, the support you have provided has enabled us to reach more people in hard to reach areas. Through your support, we have been able to improve the lives of many, enabling them to live with dignity and work towards sustainable peace.

We hope you continue to support our work in the coming years.”