A Beautiful Soul Has Left Us


I read this obituary in the Boston World, and I uncovered myself wishing that additional of us could be like Sabina. By her evaluate, most of us fall limited. But enable us honor the remarkable case in point she established. She defines the expression “force of mother nature.”

In the course of two a long time as an activist, Sabina Carlson Robillard turned a substantial chief in humanitarian reduction efforts as she insisted that the voices of those becoming assisted must usually be the most prominent in each and every discussion.

“While you’re listening to me, there are 1.5 million conversations taking place on the ground, and I’m below to request you all how we’re listening to them,” she reported at a 2010 conference in Boston about her operate in Haiti previously that yr soon after an earthquake killed additional than 200,000 persons.

She experienced turned 22 several weeks before that speech and was a seasoned activist. Many years earlier in middle college, she commenced collaborating in protests and “was by now contemplating deeply about folks who were being suffering during the earth,” reported her father, Ken Carlson.

After currently being diagnosed with crystal clear cell sarcoma four a long time back though she was pregnant, Ms. Robillard, who lived in Cambridge, stayed busier than most of her healthiest colleagues.

She worked as a consultant and an operations officer with humanitarian nonprofits, and assisted elevate her daughter and stepdaughter although staying handled for most cancers. Ms. Robillard even texted her educational adviser from her Massachusetts Common Hospital room the working day right before she died on Nov. 16, at age 34, to program a meeting a couple days later with her Tufts doctoral advisory committee.

“In an unassuming way, she improved the training course of how lots of income and people today engaged in Haiti,” reported her good friend Jess Laporte of Waterbury, Vt., a Haitian-American climate and racial justice activist who performs with nonprofits.

She labored as a guide and an operations officer with humanitarian nonprofits, and served raise her daughter and stepdaughter when currently being addressed for cancer. Ms. Robillard even texted her educational adviser from her Massachusetts Typical Hospital home the working day right before she died on Nov. 16, at age 34, to timetable a conference a few times later with her Tufts doctoral advisory committee.

“In an unassuming way, she improved the class of how plenty of income and people today engaged in Haiti,” stated her pal Jess Laporte of Waterbury, Vt., a Haitian-American weather and racial justice activist who functions with nonprofits.

Dan Maxwell, a Tufts College professor who was Ms. Robillard’s tutorial adviser, 1st satisfied her when she was a Tufts sophomore.

“She was already well identified as a power of character on campus when she was 18 or 19 yrs aged,” he mentioned.

And however a lot more not long ago she was a doctoral college student, he claimed, “she was also like a colleague, and in quite a few approaches a chief the rest of us followed.”

Ms. Robillard was the direct creator for a 2021 report, geared up with Teddy Atim and Maxwell, which known as on intercontinental aid companies to undertake a “localization” technique — permitting community teams and individuals participate in preparing and administration, rather than excluding them, as so typically was performed in the earlier.

In October, the US Company for International Growth issued a draft “Policy for Localization of Humanitarian Assistance” that cited the Tufts report and drew on its conclusions.

“I was certainly joyful to see her live very long adequate to see that kind of significant-amount validation of her function,” mentioned Maxwell, who added that Ms. Robillard was outlined by her feeling of certainty in the field and in her producing.

“She had a North Star,” he mentioned. “She knew exactly where she was likely, she knew what was suitable. When she did not power persons to concur with her, she could be really insistent about what was ideal and what was completely wrong.”

The proper technique, she frequently explained, was to listen as a substitute of impose an outsider’s view.

Following the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti, “what I observed firsthand was how significantly Haitians preferred to have their voices heard in the reaction,” Ms. Robillard wrote for the website of CDA Collaborative Learning Tasks, an global nonprofit based in Cambridge for which she worked.

Early on, Ms. Robillard channeled her resolve into serving to some others.

“Sabina was usually described by a large feeling of empathy,” her father mentioned. “Her empathy was her sixth sense. She often assumed of some others before herself, even when she was a very, really younger kid.”

She also was a multi-instrument musician, an attained slam poet, and a leader of Amnesty International and homosexual-straight alliance teams even though in superior university.

Initially intending to review inventive crafting at Tufts, Ms. Robillard was soon involved with humanitarian operate, expending months absent from the college in 2009 to perform as an intern with refugees in South Sudan.

She graduated the adhering to calendar year with a bachelor’s degree in neighborhood wellbeing and peace and justice research, and subsequently gained a master’s in used neighborhood alter and peace developing. Tufts afterwards honored Ms. Robillard for her humanitarian operate.

For the previous dozen a long time, she labored for nonprofits and assist groups like the International Organization for Migration. She was portion of the IOM’s response to the Ebola outbreak in Guinea a number of decades in the past, and its reaction to a cholera outbreak in Haiti.

Fluency in French and Haitian Creole designed her specially powerful in Haiti, in which she had lived in Cite Soleil, a crowded, impoverished portion of the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area. And she made use of her language skills to elevate the voices of those people who lived in Haiti.

A presentation at her memorial provider highlighted her quotation: “Why isn’t localized humanitarian help targeted on letting communities decide and lead the do the job in creating their personal potential?”

Amongst those she satisfied in Haiti was Louino Robillard, a local community leader known as Robi, whom she married in Port-au-Prince in December 2012, and with whom she collaborated.

With relationship arrived additional roles as stepmother to his daughter, Dayana Robillard, and guardian to the couple’s 4-calendar year-aged daughter, Anacaona.

Discoloration less than Ms. Robillard’s left eye, in the beginning imagined to be benign, appeared in 2017. Even though she was expecting the subsequent calendar year, checks showed it was a malignant tumor, and the cancer afterwards spread to her lungs.

Continuing to work for four a long time, even in the course of her closing complete working day alive, “Sabina wrote Ana e-mails more than the past four many years — 356 e-mails, understanding she wasn’t likely to be all around,” her mother stated.

In addition to her mother and father, spouse, stepdaughter, and daughter, all of Cambridge, and her brother, Ms. Robillard leaves her maternal grandmother, Luba Lepidus of Somerville.

Ms. Robillard’s partner will convey her ashes to Pak Nan Ginen, a park and reforestation job they cofounded in Saint-Raphael, Haiti, where by he options to build a memorial. Due to the fact Haiti is seriously deforested, “she wished to use her ashes as soil to plant trees,” he explained.

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