Hats off to the lady! An interview with Miriam Cristina

June 30, 2014 in Member Interviews

Hear, hear! It is with great satisfaction and pride that I get to interview a fellow female member of our team: Miriam Cristina, néeCutajar. To give you a quick profile,  when you meet Miriam for the first time, you’d never guess she’s 26 years old – she barely looks 20 – and probably you would neither picture her as a PSD teacher at a boys’ college (with all the challenges that adolescent boy-schools bring with them), and a successful one at that! But aye, that is what she does outside EFRU. She’s married to David – who’s also an active EFRU member – and lives in Żabbar. She’s as graceful as a butterfly, quiet and composed, petite and very, very shy. You’d think she’s almost fragile, until … RIIIIIIING! … goes the phone and there’s EFRU involved at the other end of the line. All the above traits notwithstanding, Miriam heaves, lifts, pushes and tosses heavy equipment like any other male member and handles casualties just as perfectly. It is probably because she puts a great deal of dedication into all of it that she does what she does so well.

Miriam’s commitment to EFRU started three years ago, in 2011, so she has had time to see EFRU evolve and to acquire quite some experience in the spectrum of work that the EFRU does. For this reason, I ask Miriam which aspect of training she prefers. Is it first aid, fire fighting, rope rescue …?

‘I would put Rescue as a preference due to the dynamic nature of the discipline itself. Every rescue exercise poses different scenarios and thus requires certain creativity, beside the application of specialised techniques. Also, greater teamwork is involved in such exercises than, say, first aid training which is more of an individualistic discipline.’

Miriam’s contribution towards the EFRU, however, goes beyond the weekly training. In April 2014 she started to form part of the EFRU Executive Committee where she first served as an aide to the executive secretary. Later this year, she took over the role as the EFRU’s secretary, a position that she still assumes to date. When I ask her to describe her role within the organisation she smiles and stops to think, then pours out a long list of duties that she has: ‘helping out with the organisation of events, planning of duties, collecting members’ availabilities for duties/events, compiling rosters, distributing information to members via email, tackling issues taken over from the previous secretary’… are only a few. Furthermore, apart from the tasks she has to fulfill as a secretary, Miriam is also entrusted with networking tasks, through which the EFRU continues to widen its relationship and communication with foreign volunteering rescue teams.

Thus follows the inevitable question: ‘how many hours a week to you dedicate to the EFRU?’

‘I can assure you it is a lot. I cannot give you a weekly lump sum, but I can tell you I have to do something every day in order to be able to finish off pending tasks within the deadline. I spend an average of 2 hours a day (after work) working on EFRU matters, excluding the Saturday training sessions.’

As an active member myself, I know how demanding all of this can be and I admit I would probably never manage to do what Miriam does in the little free time that she has. I honestly think there are not many around who canpride themselves of giving such a healthy contribution to any cause.

Towards the end of my interview, I ask Miriam to tell me what she likes most about EFRU and whether there is anything she’d rather do to change from how it currently is.

‘I like the diversity in the organisation. All the members come from different backgrounds, have different qualities, and are all good at something different.If I had to change anything, I’d increase team-building exercises, not that we don’t’ do any, but I believe we need to meet up with each other more, outside EFRU, so that we could get to know all the members better, especially the newer ones. More social events would be a good idea for this.’

Fair point, I’d say.

My last question to my colleague concerns the EFRU’s future. Where does Miriam see the EFRU going in the next few years? Miriam states that the EURO SAR (Click HERE) has helped the EFRU grow in more ways than one. She foresees a greater contribution by the EFRU in missions abroad, not only as a means of training, but also in terms of real experiences. Eventually, she admits, the EFRU’s value might be greater on an international level, than it currently is on a national level, and this is because of the greater opportunities and challenges that lie beyond our shores.

Good for us, to have leading members like Miriam Cristina who don’t flee from challenges and who, instead, strive harder to reach higher. It is with members like these that the EFRU can, and will succeed. Yet one great thing that intrigues me about Miriam is that, despite her enthusiasm and ambition, Miriam never forgets to be humble and never does anything without first ensuring she’s confident in it. As a fellow female member I cannot but express my congratulations and best wishes to one of the greatest assets the EFRU has.

Need I say more? No, my hat is definitely off to you, woman!

 Iona Muscat

EFRU Volunteer