Since a very young age, Elisa Franceschinis empathized with the world’s injustices, aware of her privileged upbringing, as her parents traveled the world while working with the Italian Embassy. From Islamabad, Canada, to London, Elisa became interested in human rights and social justice issues early in her life, volunteering for several grassroots and activist organizations while attending university in Canada.
She states, “One of the organizations I spent the longest time with was the Pivot Legal Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the legal rights of the most marginalized, such as the homeless, drug addicts, sex workers, and illegal immigrants in Vancouver.” After spending her time traveling and pursuing her passion of ‘getting involved’ with various organizations in Spain, India, and London, Elisa and her husband decided to move to Kuwait.
Worried that she would not be able to find work that would be relative to her field, Elisa was lucky enough to come across en.v, the Kuwait-based organization dedicated to promoting social responsibility and environmental sustainability in the Arab world. As project coordinator, Elisa spends her time implementing very exciting programs such as Arij (also featured in our January issue) and Voice for Success. A program funded by the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), Voice for Success aims to strengthen Kuwaiti civil society, scouting Kuwait for the most committed and talented social activists working in a variety of fields such as human rights, environmental awareness, health and education, and documenting their initiatives through a series of short films, photographic reports and articles to be published via en.v’s online news portals.
On these programs, she states, “I believe that the ‘Voice for Success’ fulfills three objectives fundamental to the development of Kuwaiti civil society. First of all, raising visibility for existing initiatives, which is vital. I’ve found that although there are many enterprising and talented young people committed to making Kuwait a better place, not much is known about their initiatives amongst the general population, and therefore they do not have the impact that they should. Secondly, we want to create a platform to promote greater cooperation and knowledge-sharing amongst active civil society organizations, in order to increase efficiency and growth of the not-for-profit sector. Third, we hope to inspire others, particularly young people, to get involved themselves, either by joining existing groups, or by creating their own initiatives, learning from others’ experiences.”
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Having a family, and friends that make you laugh, and a job that you are committed to and passionate about.
What is your greatest fear?
Wasting time. Waking up one day and realizing that I don’t have enough time to do all the things I had dreamed of doing.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I would have to say pride. I am not very good at taking criticism, for example. And I don’t like doing things I don’t think I will be good at.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Intolerance and close-mindedness.
Which living person do you most admire?
I know this is going to sound cheesy, but I can’t narrow it down to one person. There are so many courageous, committed people around the world that are willing to make unconceivable sacrifices in order to make the world a better place for others.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Honestly, I don’t think I have one. I hate shopping for clothes, and I am not into fancy electronics, cars, or anything like that. I would much rather spend my money on travelling and food.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“I think…” I love giving my opinion on stuff.
When were you happiest?
I can’t narrow it down to one moment. I guess it’s any time I am travelling, discovering a new place, or laughing with people I love.
Which talent would you most like to have?
I am pretty happy with what I have been given, but I guess I would have liked to be able to draw a bit better (all my drawings look like a five year old just did them…)
What would you consider your greatest achievement?
I guess always having been able to fulfill my ambition of making a living, while making a positive (I hope) impact on society.
Where would you most like to live?
I think if I had to choose just one place, I would probably pick Madrid, because it’s a cosmopolitan city with a lot to offer, both socially and culturally, and yet it has a very laid-back atmosphere, lovely weather and great people. However, I would need to move some place new every few years or else I would get bored…
To get in touch with Elisa, email her at [email protected].