Ms. Tara Hammonds ’14 connects global citizenship to Catholicism

Alumna+Ms.+Tara+Hammonds+14+imparts+a+message+of+global+activism+in+her+presentation+on+refugeeism.+

Claire Moore '22

Alumna Ms. Tara Hammonds ’14 imparts a message of global activism in her presentation on refugeeism.

As part of the Global Scholars curriculum, alumna Ms. Tara Hammonds ‘14 met with the Class of 2022 cohort September 29 to discuss her work combating refugeeism through humanitarian aid in reflection of Catholic social teachings.  Her presentation aligned with the Global Scholar Program (GSP) syllabus of service and social justice, foreign language skills, and cross-cultural academic experiences. 

Global Scholars 2022 Candidates virtually connect with Ms. Hammonds over FlipGrid.  Claire Moore ’22

Global Scholars ‘22 candidates Leah Allen, Joi Almonacy, Lucy Catalano, Katherine Devine, Charlotte Fallon, Mimi Lee, Kayla Malcolm-Joseph, Megan Maloney, Diana McIntire, Claire Moore, Claire Miller, Elisa Taylor, Jessica Thompson, and Maddie Wise all participated in the seminar.  Each student posed a question to Ms. Hammonds regarding non-governmental organization (NGO) efforts, global refugeeism, and humanitarian aid.  Ms. Judy Scinto, Upper School Spanish Teacher and Global Scholars Coordinator, explained the importance of Ms. Hammonds’ work.

“The work Tara does with Catholic Relief Services falls within the scope of NGOs that provide humanitarian aid all around the world,” Ms. Scinto said.  “This type of non-profit work is done outside of governments and is critical to solving problems around the world.  When we learn about world challenges relating to conflict, poverty, disease, and refugees, it is the NGO Humanitarian space that steps up to create infrastructure, funding, and pathways to positive change.  It is important to shine a light on people like Tara who have their feet on the ground doing this important work in often very risky situations.”

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is a non-profit organization focused on the pillars of faith, action, and results, according to crs.org.  Their work spans Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America and the Caribbean.  CRS programming hones in on agriculture, education, emergency response and recovery, microfinance, water security, and health, according to crs.org.  Ms. Hammonds elaborated on how CRS’s Catholic mission enables her to form meaningful connections across the globe. 

“Catholic Relief Services is geared toward prioritizing human dignity and the sacredness of all human life,” Ms. Hammonds said.  “In this line of work, it is easy to view people as just numbers when distributing food and aid, but Catholic Relief Services really focuses on viewing refugees as separate from these numbers and conducting our programming in a way that is person-centric. Our mission is based on the Catholic principle of solidarity in regard to the global community, meaning we treat everyone as family.  I have found that doing humanitarian work through a Catholic lens really helps me engage in very meaningful ways with displaced peoples.”  

NGOs function independently of government and primarily support human rights, advocate for public health, and encourage political participation among refugees, according to ngosource.org.  These organizations also promote humanitarian development, aid, and philanthropy.  Ms. Hammonds highlighted how humanitarian work in the NGO sector promotes an atmosphere of perpetual learning.    

“My first foreign service project was working to increase food security in Niger, Africa,” Ms. Hammonds said.  “At the time, I was new to CRS and the NGO sphere as a whole.  I eventually took over a large-scale voucher distribution project in Niger.  Working on such an important project with little experience made me realize how much I needed to learn.  In international development work, you never stop learning and are consistently humbled by the knowledge and experience of the people that surround you.  This creates a really productive culture where you are continuously learning from others and they are continuously learning from you.”

As of 2020, there are 82 million forcibly displaced persons around the globe, 68 percent of which originate from the Syrian Arab Republic, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Myanmar, according to unhcr.org.  Ms. Hammonds is currently stationed in Jerusalem, Israel.  The majority of her work is in Gaza and the West Bank, where the effects of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict are most present.  Her time abroad has given Ms. Hammonds further insight into domestic affairs and inspired her to take a more active stance on current social issues.  

Over half of the world’s refugees reside in only six countries, including 9 percent in Gaza.  Courtesy of weforum.org

“A surprising number of bills passed through Congress have to do with international funding,” Ms. Hammonds said.  “My exposure to various international issues has inspired me to become more aware of policy within our own government and engage with representatives to ensure that enough funding is allocated to causes I care very deeply for abroad.  Seeing how other countries approach certain situations also gave me interesting perspectives on how the United States addresses similar issues.  I spent some time in Uganda, which is one of the countries that host the most refugees in the world.  Their system of welcoming and hosting refugees in a way that forms social cohesion is very different from how the United States’ method.”

Ms. Hammonds graduated from Sacred Heart Greenwich in 2014 as valedictorian.  She studied French and Latin while in high school, both with Dr. Marcia Josephson.  She continued her academic career at Cornell University, located in Ithaca, New York, with a concentration in international affairs and world languages.  Ms. Hammonds earned a Bachelor of Science in International Agriculture and Rural Development and minors in French and Animal Science.  Choosing to remain at Cornell, she completed a Master of Professional Studies in Global Development.  Ms. Hammonds currently serves as a monitoring, evaluation, accountability, and learning (MEAL) manager for Catholic Relief Services’ development and emergency response sector in Israel.

Ms. Scinto discussed how Ms. Hammonds’ extensive credentials informed the GSP 2022 Candidates about true global citizenship, particularly in regard to refugeeism.

“For our summer work, we picked Global Refugeeism to research because it’s a relevant global issue and it also ties in with our senior reading of The Girl Who Smiled Beads, so it was an opportunity for us to be interdisciplinary and deepen our understanding of a compelling issue that we as global citizens need to understand,” Ms. Scinto said.  “Tara is the obvious alumna choice here because of her commitment to Catholic Relief Services where she focuses her career on international aid and development.  Not only was she a brilliant student here at Sacred Heart, but also she was really a self-described Global Scholar before we had the program, meaning she is intellectually curious about global issues, loves language, and she’s dedicated to being a true global citizen with her mission-driven work.”

Featured Image by Claire Moore ’22