The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) implements Child Protection Programme across 17 states in India. The organization aims to build a safe environment where children, especially the most vulnerable, are protected from violence, exploitation, abuse, neglect and harmful practices. Ten UN Volunteer Child Protection Officers support UNICEF in strengthening child protection systems in the country.
“Volunteering with UNICEF has helped me expand my knowledge on child protection issues and develop a passion for advancing children’s rights,” says So Dam Hong, a UN Youth Volunteer who supports adolescent empowerment to end child marriage in India, a core strategy of UNICEF.
Daniel Selva is a national UN Volunteer supporting mental health and psychosocial services to communities. He engages with young people to promote mental well-being in the State of Chhattisgarh. He is a mental health professional and supports positive parenting, children in institutional care and prevention of substance abuse.
In the neighboring state of Bihar, Rashmi Kumari, a national UN Volunteer Child Protection Officer, uses her computer engineering background to develop an app on children's rights. "I am grateful for the mentoring support I have received at UNICEF, which has helped me develop and apply critical thinking skills to all aspects of programme implementation," she says.
Parul Yadav, a national UN Volunteer brings her legal expertise to improve access to justice for children, with a focus on victim compensation mechanisms in the State of Rajasthan.
Sailo Aimol Bongte and Muhammed Afsal KK, national UN Volunteer Child Protection Officers currently serve in the States of Assam and Gujarat. Sailo provides technical support to the government and implementing partners to improve child protection systems and family-based care, while Afsal contributes to knowledge and partnership management.
When Dhaaban Dheer Dekaa joined in 2021, he was the only national UN Volunteer Child Protection Specialist. Since then, the number of UN Volunteers has expanded. "I have witnessed the significant difference this has made in the achievement of results. Now, we have a network of UN Volunteers bonded by our shared passion," he adds.
National UN Volunteer Alphonsa Kumari was initially based in the State of Uttar Pradesh and currently serves in West Bengal. For her, it has been a remarkable journey of transformation, learning and advocacy, she says.
Poonam Kashyapserves in the State of Maharashtra and takes immense pride in her service. “My experience as a UN Volunteer has been incredibly fulfilling," she says. "Witnessing the positive impact on the lives of children has reaffirmed my passion and commitment to championing their rights and ensuring they have a brighter future."
With ten UN Volunteers currently serving with us, our team has grown to become one of the largest UNICEF child protection teams in the world. The young and versatile UN Volunteers have infused dynamism in the team through their innovative, out-of-the-box approaches. --Soledad Herrero, a former UN Volunteer and currently Chief of the Child Protection Unit of UNICEF, India
Soledad Herrero echoes the positive impact of the long-standing partnership of UNICEF and UNV using the words of Helen Keller: “Alone we can do so little; together, we can do so much.”
UN Volunteers bring specific skills and know-how that are vital to supporting UNICEF’s mission of protecting the rights of every child in the country. UNICEF offers a unique opportunity to enhance the practical experience, professional growth and development of UN Volunteers. --Christian Hainzl, Regional Manager of UNV in Asia and the Pacific