South-East Madagascar has been hit by devastating cyclones which leave people displaced and vulnerable in their aftermath. Seshiru Muraki has been part of the response to these emergencies. She serves as an international UN Volunteer Project Support Assistant with the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Seshiru shares her story.
Raised by Japanese parents in a foreign land, my upbringing instilled in me a deep curiosity for diverse cultures and a desire to work for the United Nations. During my gap year, I took the opportunity to serve as a UN Volunteer with IOM in Madagascar.
I was assigned as a Project Support Assistant to support vulnerable communities and displaced people affected by devastating cyclones. My role extended beyond assistance, as I collaborated with local and national authorities, as well as other humanitarian agencies, to ensure coordinated efforts in improving the lives of those affected and helped build their resilience against future natural calamities.
Within the project, a critical concern arose: the migration of men to different regions of Madagascar following cyclones, leaving women and children in unstable conditions. The destruction of agricultural resources, which required years to regenerate, forced men to seek economic opportunities elsewhere.
Recognizing the situation of these vulnerable individuals, the project incorporated a crucial component; establishing income-generating activities specifically designed for the most marginalized women in the region. By securing stable incomes, their livelihoods started improving and their vulnerabilities were mitigated.
The impact of the IOM project extended to 5,000 households across three regions in South-East Madagascar, bringing positive change through the implementation of income-generating activities.
My responsibilities included interacting with those affected, identifying their needs and establishing a vital link between IOM Madagascar and the field. This involved deploying staff and volunteers through the sub-office in Mananjary, enabling effective on-ground operations.
As the project unfolded, the team recognized the importance of data collection and analysis to comprehend the movements of people within the regions and identify urgent community needs. IOM's Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) played a pivotal role in this process, providing valuable insights for informed decision-making.
Furthermore, the project invested in training on camp coordination and management, building the capacities of beneficiaries, authorities and humanitarian partners. This prepared them to respond effectively in the face of future natural disasters.
During my assignment, I encountered my greatest challenge: the emotional impact of the living conditions of displaced people. This took a toll on my psyche. However, I found peace in sharing my thoughts and feelings with friends and family, nurturing the mental strength necessary to persevere and deliver quality work. --Seshiru Muraki, Project Support Assistant with IOM, Madagascar
In the cyclone-affected landscapes of South-East Madagascar, Seshiru Muraki's dedication and volunteering spirit have made an impact. Through innovative approaches, vulnerable communities and displaced people have been empowered, livelihoods have flourished, and resilience has been built, inspiring hope for a brighter future.