Jason William Gbambi: One of the most meaningful journeys of my life

Jason William Gbambi: One of the most meaningful journeys of my life
10.05.2024 | 09:58

Jason William Gbambi: One of the most meaningful journeys of my life

Jason William Gbambi was a UN Volunteer Community Outreach Officer with United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) from 2018 to 2022. He has a physical disability. Yet, this did not prevent him from advocating for a cause he feel deeply about.

Jason interacted with local communities, women’s groups, youth representatives, students, traditional leaders, faith-based organizations and government stakeholders in South Sudan to educate them on the core values of UNMISS.

He shared that the most valuable part of his assignment was to interact with the women in his community and raise awareness on sexual exploitation and abuse. He also delivered trainings to external partners and community leaders on how they could prevent sexual exploitation and abuse.

“These were difficult topics to discuss, but once I built a rapport with the people I was sensitizing, it was  very rewarding to see them respond positively.”

Jason’s assistance and contributions to the work of his office went a long way in enabling communities as well as external stakeholders understand the effects of sexual exploitation. It also helped to strengthen awareness and capacity on working together to eliminate sexual exploitation from the country. The efforts were especially valuable as they empowered women who were survivors of sexual exploitation and abuse to speak up for themselves, and fostering a hope in the bright future of the country.

His understanding of the South Sudanese customs and culture, being a national, combined with a cohesive mindset between his team at UNMISS and himself helped many local initiatives. 

Yet, there were challenges at times.

For instance, given the South Sudanese culture, it was somewhat strange and unusual for Jason, a man, to speak to women on issues of sexual exploitation and abuse and UN values and principles that differ from the traditional culture and values in South Sudan. Nevertheless, Jason’s good attitude helped to overcome resistance and establish a good rapport with the people he interacted with.

The COVID-19 pandemic also presented many challenges. Face-to-face interactions had to be stopped. “The virus had another, more disturbing effect: many vulnerable girls and women had to resort to transactional sex work, due to the loss of livelihoods during lockdown. This meant that more than ever, we needed to reach out to communities to make sure that such vulnerabilities were addressed and safety nets were put in place,” Jason added.

His advice to other young people looking to volunteer with the UN, “Being a UN Volunteer is a calling. Volunteerism is all about the community, about dealing with problems and successes together. If there is any young person who wants to make a difference, who wants to build a better world, then I would hugely recommend it. Being a UN Volunteer with UNMISS has been one of the most meaningful journeys of my life.

Since ending his volunteer assignment at the UN, Jason has moved on to another volunteer assignment. He is now volunteering with the Ministry of Gender and Social Development in South Sudan.

This article was produced with the kind support of Vibhu Sharma, UN Volunteer Communications Specialist for Disability Inclusion. For more information on volunteering opportunities, please click on how to become a volunteer.