At first glance, Vividila Christophe Massamba is the quintessential Cuso International volunteer: a highly skilled professional using his expertise to contribute to improving the lives of others. Having studied marketing and management at both an undergraduate and master’s level, Christophe has worked in a number of roles in France and Canada. His diverse knowledge and experience made him an ideal fit for the position of Communications Advisor, working to strengthen the communications and marketing capacities of a number of Cuso International’s local partner organizations throughout Peru.
Digging deeper, Christophe’s story is anything but typical.
Born in the Republic of the Congo, Christophe relocated to Paris with his family at the age of fifteen. He found his third “home” a decade ago when he moved to Canada to pursue a PhD in Anthropology at the University of Laval in Quebec City. His passion for Latin American culture grew during this time as he conducted field work in the region, as well as the Caribbean and Mauritius, while studying the process of how cultural and political identities of Afro-descendants are constructed. Having earned his PhD, Christophe’s passion for the world of business soon drew him to Montreal, where he completed master’s studies in management and worked for several years as a marketing manager specializing in digital marketing.
In addition to his passions for marketing and anthropology, Christophe has a third love: great food. Having taken Spanish classes throughout his years in university, he moved to Ensenada, Mexico in 2013 where he joined forces with a former classmate from his master’s program at HEC Montreal to run a playfully named French bistro Le Pinche Francés. The experience and friendships he gained in Mexico were invaluable. In Christophe’s words, “I wouldn’t say that I have one home country. Although my family lives in France, both Canada and the Congo are close to my heart, and Mexico has become a second home to me while living there for the past two and a half years.”
But it was soon time to pursue another dream.
“For many years, I had dreamed of working in international development,” Christophe tells us. “I came to a moment in my life where I was looking to do something new and different, something that would allow me to make use of my experience in multiple areas. Although experiencing Peruvian cuisine and learning about the country’s unique cultural heritage were of great interest to me, the main reason I came to Peru was for the opportunity to work with a number of respected development organizations and social enterprises throughout the country.”
_(Photo courtesy of Cuso International)_
Unlike many Cuso International volunteers who work full-time with a specific local partner, Christophe works daily to strengthen the communications capabilities of diverse partner organizations including the Defensoría del Pueblo, organic coffee and cocoa cooperatives Oro Verde and Acopagro. child and youth development organization Kallpa, sustainable tourism operator CBC Tupay, and natural medicine producer Laboratorio Takiwasi.
During the first three months of his volunteer placement, Christophe has put his plethora of skills to work, convening with managers of these organizations to define communications plans and kick-start new initiatives to publicize the positive impact that their projects have on local communities.
Together with the author of this article, Christophe is currently focused on facilitating a series of communications workshops for Cuso International’s partner organizations in the regions of Cusco, Lima and San Martín. Fourteen individuals recently attended his workshop on public relations strategy at the Lima offices of the Defensoría del Pueblo, and more than twenty participated in his full-day workshop in the rural town of Lamas, which focused on sharing knowledge about diverse topics ranging from constructing a communications plan to best practices in digital marketing.
Travelling to Lamas, in the beautiful Peruvian Amazon, Christophe commented on how returning to the jungle reminded him of the rainforests in his native Congo, and the fiery _ají charapita_ from the region evoked memories of Mexican cuisine. Reflecting on his placement in Peru, Christophe tells us that “working with development organizations and social enterprises was everything I hoped it would be. Although I’m not sure where my path will lead next, my volunteer experience with Cuso International has spurred my desire to continue working in the field of development, and to continue living and working abroad. The world is full of opportunity, if you know where to look.”
_Cuso International currently has a number of open volunteer placements in Peru and around the world._ _Apply today_. worked in a number of roles in France and Canada, passion for Latin America eventually led this skilled professional to Peru.