Through their work, husband and wife, Jorge Bica and Marta Passerini, have a front row seat to the never ending resilience of the human spirit. They are grateful to be “custodians of the most important moments in people’s lives.”
Marta and Jorge were both in Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010 and although their paths were definitely meant to cross, they didn’t meet until some time later while working for Save the Children assisting Rohingya refugees in Myanmar. Today, Marta is a Child Protection Specialist who works for UNICEF. It’s her job to create and implement programs to care for the needs of migrant and refugee children in places like Haiti, Kenya, Tunisia, Myanmar, and Lebanon. Jorge is an Emergency Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Specialist for UNICEF. Jorge ensures that the victims of disaster, both natural and manmade - have access to clean water, the most critical requirement for our survival, as well as basic sanitation infrastructure.
From 2013 through the end of 2020, Marta and Jorge were stationed together in Beirut, Lebanon. During this time, Lebanon faced long-standing political instability, an influx of millions of Syrian refugees fleeing civil war, a severe economic crisis, and a global pandemic. Despite these realities, Marta and Jorge know Lebanon as a place of incredible beauty and culture, whose people are generous to a fault.
On August 4, 2020 in the midst of the pandemic, a massive explosion ripped through the Port of Beirut, killing over 200, injuring 77,000, and decimating thousands of homes and buildings nearby. The blast was felt in Syria, Turkey, Israel, Jordan and as far away as parts of Europe. It’s considered one of the most powerful accidental, non-nuclear explosions in history. Among those killed and injured were many that Marta and Jorge counted as friends and colleagues. They themselves became displaced and dispossessed.
Today we speak with Marta and Jorge about what inspired them to dedicate their lives to humanitarian aid work, and what their experiences have taught them about grace, gratitude, community, and how we can all help.
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