This International Youth Day, we share the inspiring story of Tiavina Solomampionona Nambinintsoa. Tiavina just concluded her assignment at UNFPA Madagascar, where she served as a national UN Youth Volunteer and Young Innovator Fellow. As a Young Innovator, Tiavina's approach to innovation extended beyond technology, focusing on doing things differently to achieve better results. In an end-of-assignment interview with Tiavina, we dove into her experiences, the impact she made on the people she served, and the lessons she learned along the way.
What did your day-to-day work at UNFPA Madagascar entail?
My role demanded a lot of adaptability and innovation. While primarily working with UNFPA’s youth programmes and communications teams, I still took on diverse responsibilities across other departments. For example, as a focal point for two important projects at UNFPA Madagascar – the One UN initiative and Hack4Peace projects – I introduced an innovative volunteering system that contributed to accelerating expected results.
Through the new volunteering system, my colleagues at UNFPA Madagascar were able to quickly vet, recruit and deploy young volunteers from a wide range of volunteer associations in the country. In turn, the young volunteers recruited had an opportunity to engage in UNFPA projects. They also gained important experience in global development issues particularly related to youth and gender issues.
How has your work impacted the people you served?
Due to the nature of my assignment, the results of my work were not tied to specific indicators. However, I believe that my contributions made a notable impact. During the 16 days of activism, I introduced a campaign dubbed #ZaHiteny, which translates into: "I am going to speak up". This was to encourage young people to break the silence about gender-based violence that they faced.
The initiative garnered massive support, with influential national figures such as Miss Madagascar, Antsaly Rajoelina, joining the cause. Additionally, I played crucial roles in nurturing young talent working on reproductive health, gender-based violence and sexual and reproductive health promotion during UNFPA events such as the Hack4Peace and YouthMobile competitions.
What have been your greatest challenges and lessons?
My journey as a UN Youth Volunteer has not been without challenges, especially as a newcomer to the UN system. At the initial stages, things felt a little overwhelming, as the UN system is quite complex and was not so easy to navigate. Nevertheless, my supervisor and colleagues always showed me support and compassion, allowing me to overcome hurdles and eventually feel a sense of belonging.
One of the valuable lessons that I learned was the importance of speaking up and seeking assistance when facing difficulties, ultimately leading to finding the best solutions.
What is the one thing you are particularly proud of regarding your work?
There are number of achievements that I had during my assignment, but one of my proudest moments was winning the prestigious UNFPA Innovation Fair Award. Taking charge of the initiative, I coordinated the efforts that helped our team at UNFPA secure the Award. This remarkable achievement was a personal and professional vindication of my dedication and innovative spirit.
How was your overall experience serving as a UN Volunteer at UNFPA Madagascar?
I found UNFPA Madagascar extremely supportive and appreciative. Whenever I achieved success or excelled in my tasks, I received encouragement from the Country Representative and senior management. Their recognition fuelled my motivation to continue striving for excellence.
Upon the end of my assignment, former Deputy Resident Representative Miranda Tabifor's kind words, "Once UNFPA, forever UNFPA," touched my heart, where she highlighted the agency's openness to welcoming me back again.
What are your thoughts about what it means to volunteer?
I believe that volunteering is a journey of personal growth, but also reflecting on my experience, volunteering is about giving back to others and giving one's best. --Tiavina Solomampionona Nambinintsoa, Young Innovator Fellow, UNFPA Madagascar
My time as a UN Youth Volunteer at UNFPA Madagascar became an extraordinary turning point in my life. In just a few months, I witnessed personal growth, surrounded by a supportive network, despite my initial relatively limited experience in the field. Each day brought valuable lessons, and I remain profoundly grateful for the opportunity to serve and make a difference.
Tiavina's journey as a UN Youth Volunteer showcases the power of innovation, dedication and collaboration in driving positive change. On this Youth Day, let us celebrate the journey of young volunteers like Tiavina, whose commitment to making a difference inspires us all to create a better world for future generations.