Along with the challenge of tackling the worst public health emergency of the century comes the responsibility to show solidarity across sectors and generations. This responsibility is willingly assumed by volunteers ready to help their communities face the crisis everywhere around the world. A pertinent example is Kosovo*, where youth constitutes the majority of the population. Here, UN Community Volunteer Tatjana Nedeljkovič (25) assists her neighbours in becoming more resilient amidst the pandemic , with the supported by the joint UN Youth for Kosovo project.
During her assignment at the Forum for Development and Multi-ethnic Cooperation (FDMC), Tatjana visited healthcare workers in local health centres, partook in a creative information campaign to raise the awareness on the importance of vaccination, and delivered protective materials. Moreover, she supported social clubs and paid visits to the people of her community living in vulnerable conditions in Graçanicë/Gračanica.
The families living in vulnerable conditions are always tremendously grateful for our visits. People sometimes need to see that someone asks about their problems, hears them out and advocates for them. --UN Community Volunteer Tatjana Nedeljkovič
Listening and learning are two of the key actions underlined by the bold UN commitment to mark its 75 anniversary, called the "UN75 Shaping our Future Together” challenge, and Tatjana fully embraced this attitude.
Nonetheless, it took her a long way to accomplish this. While she was pursuing studies in business informatics away from home, Tatjana felt disconnected from her community and that’s what motivated her to return in the role of a UN Community Volunteer.
"The situation always seems different from a distance," Tatjana says. "But when you start living and working with the people of your community, that is when you start seeing deeper into the reality. For instance, while I previously thought that there were no efforts to overcome language barriers among individuals from different communities in Kosovo, today I witness the efforts of people everyday to find a common ground by speaking English in shops and at local institutions.
When reminiscing about the best moments of her volunteering in Kosovo, Tatjana shares, "My favorite thing was to see people of my community getting together to discuss on a variety of topics, exchange ideas and socialize. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything and hampered people from enjoying these important moments of social interaction."
An enthusiast of event management, initially, Tatjana was disheartened that she had to organize all events virtually. Yet she quickly adapted to this change by introducing innovative ideas for arranging online events and for promoting the impact of the organization to the community.
This young woman epitomizes her own theory that “every successful youth career starts with volunteering”. After successfully completing her UN Community Volunteer assignment, FDMC decided to keep her longer as part of the team. Today, Tatjana is the project coordinator for patronage healthcare services and she continues to give back to her community in Graçanicë/Gračanica.
Tatjana’s assignment was made possible by the UN Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund, as part of the Youth for Kosovo project: "Empowering Youth for a Peaceful, Prosperous and Sustainable Future in Kosovo". The project is jointly implemented by the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme, UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and UN Women. Until now, 69 UN Community Volunteers (73 per cent of them young women and 50 per cent from non-majority communities) volunteered in public institutions and community-based organizations, and assisted in the delivery of public service to their peers and communities.
*References to Kosovo shall be understood in the context of UN Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).