Salloum, Egypt: When thinking of a volunteer, what usually comes to mind is a young person working in the field of an emergency zone. The link between the words volunteer and desk job is--to say the least--not very common. Well, I am one of those volunteers. I have been a national UN Volunteer, at a desk with office hours, in UNICEF Egypts Communication for Development (C4D) Section for a little over two years now.
Over these past two years, I have been involved in a number of different projects ranging from behavioral change responses to the Avian Influenza. I have also worked during the H1N1 influenza pandemic in 2010, and the emergency response in Salloum in the wake of the Libyan revolution (March 2011). I assisted UNICEF Egypts team in providing relief efforts and psychosocial support to displaced children and families on the Egyptian-Libyan borders. Apart from emergency responses, I have been involved in a few more long-term projects: promoting healthy lifestyles, hygienic practices and cooperation among kindergarten children as well as primary school children and their families in addition to building capacities of government and civil society counterparts in the field of C4D.
I have to admit that emergency response does have its thrill and that it probably is some of the most immediately gratifying work anyone could ever do. However, assisting a team of wonderfully talented and fully dedicated women to bring about positive change in the behavior of many Egyptian children and families (in matters of hygiene, non-violence, nutrition and more) is where I have found the most joy in my experience. Day in and day out, my task is to offer support to the work of C4D in preparing for trainings, drafting concept papers and funding proposals, reviewing and editing Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials, following up with partners and consultants, conducting research and field visits to help monitor the progress of C4D initiatives as well as the documentation of projects.
During the course of working with UNICEF Egypt, I have learned a lot, visited parts of Egypt I had never been to before, gained a wealth of experience and hopefully helped my C4D colleagues with their contagious spirit, dedication and professionalism in their endeavor to touch the lives of Egyptian children and families.