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Restoring the wellbeing and dignity of beneficiaries through volunteer engagement

Hope Nanungi is one of 204 UN Volunteers serving in the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).  On the occasion of the International Day of UN Peacekeepers, the 29-year-old Ugandan shares her volunteer journey.

To me, volunteerism is a very fascinating journey of exploring myself, diverse cultures, communities and the world at large. In January 2016, I felt I should pass on my skills further to a more global community. Having acquired a Bachelor’s degree in Procurement and Logistics Management with CIPS, I decided to register for Online Volunteer opportunities with the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme.

I went in for the challenge and saw myself changing the lives of Irish people by providing online administrative support to a non-governmental organization in Ireland. For 60 days, the experience I gained allowed me to contribute my efforts to making this world a better place. That was the beginning of a new journey.

I wanted to change lives away from my home country. I needed my presence to be felt. I wanted to physically be in people’s lives. So, I applied for a UN Volunteer assignment and was engaged as an Acquisition Planning Assistant to serve with MINUSMA. Being deployed in a peacekeeping mission has been a great opportunity for me to merge my passion for working on the frontlines of change with my career exposure aspirations of getting a wide range of experiences.

Moving to Bamako has, so far, been my greatest life experience. The people are warm and hospitable. I wake up every day excited to get onto the shuttle to move from Sotuba, a suburb in Bamako, to our office, looking forward to the days challenges. I am the only UN Volunteer in the Acquisition Management Section, where I work with 19 other professionals

My assignment helped me develop my knowledge of international protection and strengthened my skills in reporting and management in a much more multi-cultural setting. One beneficiary sent me an email, highly commending my determination and the efforts I always invest in my work, which moved my heart.

The greatest reward is that my contribution, amongst the incredible contributions of my colleagues, has led to the gradual restoration of the wellbeing and dignity of several beneficiaries. I know I am positively impacting and contributing to one of the Sustainable Development Goals, promoting peace.

Due to the satisfaction I have derived from volunteering, I cannot stop the journey here, because the world still needs volunteers in every form and every way, and because it is my passion. I will always be available to pitch in, as long as I am putting a smile on someone’s face.