UNV mourns volunteers lost in Haiti earthquake
09 March 2010
The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme has united with the families of victims of the Haiti earthquake, their former colleagues and friends to express empathy for their grief.
In a memorial service led by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York, UNV Executive Coordinator Flavia Pansieri and senior UNV staff attended to express their support for the families of UNV volunteers Nicole Bahaya (30) of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mamadi Conde (43) of Guinea and Nivah Odwori (36) of Kenya.
All three served with the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and are sorely missed by their colleagues and UNV overall.
Mamadi Conde had been working as a Community Violence Reduction Officer in Port-au-Prince, having first joined MINUSTAH in October 2005. During his work for the Community Violence Reduction Section, Mr. Conde helped set up the Reintegration Orientation Centre (ROC) for disarmed gang members. Mr. Conde's colleague Jonie Bioco wrote that he was a man "with a great passion to help, a guy with a ton of courage". Mr. Bioco continued: "He worked sleepless nights to make sure that ROC tenants were properly taken care of and to ensure that violence did not erupt in the centre... He was loved and respected by former gang members (with whom he worked) and all staff in the ROC."
UNV Executive Coordinator Flavia Pansieri said: "Mamadi had dedicated years of his life to the assistance of others, and his commitment to voluntary service was an inspiration to beneficiaries and colleagues in Haiti alike. All volunteers and staff at UNV and MINUSTAH will remember his life, and his important work for peace and development, with profound gratitude and respect. Mamadi and all those who lost their lives in the earthquake will continue to inspire us in the years to come. Our profound sympathy goes to his family at this difficult time."
At the time of the earthquake, Nicole Bayaha was serving as a UNV volunteer Administrative Assistant. She had arrived in Haiti in December 2007. Ms. Bayaha was educated at the Martin Luther King University in Bujumbura, Burundi, where she studied for a Bachelor of Arts degree in Enterprise Management. During her studies she worked in administration for the national human rights organization. She also worked in marketing and administration for private companies in Bukava, DRC.
UNV Executive Coordinator Flavia Pansieri said: "Nicole Bahaya came from a country that has itself experienced conflict, and it is a tribute to her selflessness and courage that she volunteered to help others recovering from conflict in Haiti. Nicole Bayaha dedicated herself to the cause of peace and development. Her inspirational contribution to the cause of peace and development will never be forgotten. Our thoughts are with her family at this terrible time."
The UNV Programme Manager with MINUSTAH in Haiti, Fatou Diop, said: "We are all devastated by this. Nicole touched the lives of everyone she came into contact with, and was well-regarded for her professionalism and sincere sense of duty." Nicole’s colleague Aminata Diakite noted her strong affection for her son Ryan, who turned three years old in February, and described Nicole as “an amazing team player…beautiful inside and out”.
Nivah Odwori was recently buried in her native Kenya in a high-profile ceremony attended by the Prime Minister Raila Odinga. Both the UN Mission and UNV met with the family of Ms. Odwori to express condolences on behalf of the organization and noted that Ms. Odwori was a valued member of the UN Mission in Haiti.UNV Executive Coordinator Ms. Flavia Pansieri said in a statement, "Nivah was a compassionate and talented individual who had chosen to apply her skills to the cause of peace and development, as a volunteer. She was highly motivated and enthusiastic and her death is a great loss to the Mission, her family and her friends."
UNV has opened a memorial webpage for the vicitims of the Haiti earthquake. UNV continues to work with the families and colleagues of the deceased and to provide support and counselling to the survivors of the 12 January tragedy.