From Burkina Faso to the very heart of Congo
Imagine transitioning from the familiar landscapes of Burkina Faso to the vast and diverse terrain of Congo, all with a mission to uncover its stories – not through words or pictures, but numbers. That was my challenge when I started as an international UN volunteer with the UNFPA’s country office. But why numbers, you ask? Numbers hold power. They drive decisions, influence policies and mould the future.
The monumental task ahead
In 2017, my journey began. I, a UN Volunteer, was given a task that would span three eventful years: to support the National Institute of Statistics (INS) for the 5th General Population and Housing Census (RGPH-5). But this was not just any census. It would influence and shape national strategies and policies for many years.
Embracing the UN Volunteer spirit
With every step, I channeled the core values of a UN Volunteer - dedication, resilience and a thirst for knowledge. As I navigated the complex world of statistics, every number whispered a story and every data point held a secret. My role was to bridge the gap between complex statistical jargon and the vibrant communities of Congo.
Teaming up with the Permanent Technical Teams (ETP) of the RGPH-5 and the General Census of Enterprises in Congo (REGEC), we crafted key messages, developed communication tools and consistently evaluated their impact. The mission was clear: Ensure every Congolese voice counted.
The real Congo: beyond the data
Yet, my role as a UN volunteer took me beyond numbers and charts:
- Pilot enumeration: Here, I experienced the strategies' nuances.
- Census mapping: From urban centers to remote villages, I got a firsthand look at Congo's unique socio-economic landscapes.
- Main enumeration: Engaging with diverse individuals, I was reminded of our shared aspirations and dreams.
Whether navigating the challenging terrains or the picturesque lake regions, every area had its own tale to tell.
Triumphs, trust and tribulations
Gaining the trust of the INS community and authorities was both an honor and a testament to the values ingrained in every UN Volunteer. However, the journey didn't stop there. By 2022, I transitioned into a role as a communication and social mobilization consultant, facing a myriad of challenges, especially financial hurdles. Despite this, we pressed on, focusing on:
- Highlighting the invaluable investments by our allies.
- Celebrating our team's milestones.
- Underscoring the RGPH-5 data's importance in aligning Congo’s future with global visions, such as the SDGs and the African Union's 2063 Agenda.
The spirit of a UN Volunteer
At the core, it became clear: to truly resonate with Congo's heartbeat, one must delve into its people's aspirations. Our goal wasn't just data collection, but ensuring every Congolese grasped their stories' significance behind the numbers.
As the RGPH-5 journey continues, my pride as a UN Volunteer isn't only in our past achievements. It is also in the hope and anticipation for Congo's unfolding narrative.