Editor’s Note: On the occasion of International Women’s Day on March 8, 2017, we wanted to take the opportunity to highlight female peacekeepers who are part of the military component of the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
By Maj. Tristan Hinderliter, MINUSTAH Military Public Information Office
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Staff Sergeant Kathlyn Solares of the Philippine Army serves as a clerk here for the Force legal advisor and Force provost marshal of MINUSTAH.
In that capacity, she’s responsible for helping her bosses with translations and administrative tasks. Solares said she likes working with such a diverse group of people in the mission.
“It’s a good ambiance working with an American, a Brazilian, a Guatemalan and a Peruvian,” she said. “It’s very exciting.”
The diverse environment in MINUSTAH brings together people with many different language skills and cultural backgrounds.
Solares, a native tagalog speaker, is enrolled in a ten-week language course offered by the U.N. Rather than studying French or Creole, she chose Spanish because it's more similar to tagalog, she said. It will also help her communicate with her Spanish-speaking bosses.
“I’m excited to have the opportunity to study Spanish here,” she said. “The class is great so far, and a lot of my friends are taking it with me.”
Solares, who has been in the military for 12 years, said her initial training when she came into the Army was very difficult.
“I usually see myself as not such a strong person,” she said. “But here I am. I made it.”
Seven months into her deployment, Solares said she’s enjoying the experience. “I’ve met a lot of people, I’ve made a lot of friends, and been to different parts of Haiti,” she said. One of her favorite destinations so far has been the Citadelle, a mountaintop fortress in the northern part of the country built by a former Haitian leader in 1820.
“The Citadelle was breathtaking, in the sense that we saw beautiful places and beautiful views, but also breathtaking because I had a hard time climbing up the mountain,” she said.
Like many soldiers deployed in MINUSTAH, Solares is sacrificing time with her family at home to serve in the mission – her daughter, Giordana, is eight.
“She’s very pretty and very smart,” Solares said. “I miss her so much.”
Staff Sergeant Kathlyn Solares of the Philippine Army serves as a clerk for the force legal advisor and force provost marshal of MINUSTAH. She has been in the military for 12 years. (Photo by Sgt Faizal Kasan, MPIO)