I joined the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) as a UN Volunteer in November 2016. As a medical doctor, I was stationed in Rumbek, Lake State region, to provide medical care to both national and international UN personnel. I supported and coordinated efforts to prevent infectious and epidemic diseases and managed a team that handles daily services and emergency clinical and administrative duties, such as referral of patients, minor surgeries, mass casualty training, medical evacuation and first aid.
As a medical doctor, I have worked in conflict situations for most of my career. Since 2006, I have served as a medical doctor in Kabul, Afghanistan and Dili and Baucau in Timor Leste. During my assignments there, I helped set up UN level I clinics and handled medical issues similar to what I am handling now in South Sudan.
Apart from my role as a medical doctor, I have also had the opportunity to volunteer in the communities. Between 2007 and 2012, while serving as a UN Volunteer medical doctor in Timor Leste, I coordinated with other UNV colleagues to mobilize donations and provide academic scholarships for youth in local communities.
We also trained local youth and health workers in the community on essential steps to prevent infectious disease. With the support of the UN mission and UNV team in Timor Leste, I was also engaged in nature conservation and coordinated the donation of tree seedlings for local greening and reforesting efforts to prevent erosion.
In my present assignment in South Sudan, I am privileged to work as a UN Volunteer in local communities, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Indeed, the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened already difficult living conditions for communities in South Sudan. Together with other UN Volunteers, I have been involved in blood donation drives. I have also worked on building water wells, which have been providing water to 300 families in Makuririck village.
Our efforts were appreciated by UNMISS, local communities and the local government and motivated the implementation of similar projects in neighboring villages.
During all my years of service as a UN Volunteer, the UN missions and UNV colleagues have been very supportive. While serving in Timor Leste, I was once invited by the president of Timor Leste to receive an award as “Outstanding Volunteer of the Year” at the president’s palace in recognition of my volunteer contributions.
Working in multicultural environments with different languages and limited facilities can be quite challenging, yet this is an everyday reality of UN mission settings. My UN Volunteer assignments have often meant working in isolated places far from families and friends.
However, I believe that my experience serving as a UN Volunteer and medical doctor for over 10 years has made me happier and more fulfilled. Service to humanity is an important enabler to closing the growing inequalities across the world.