The UNV Field Unit Khartoum, and the Sudanese Red Crescent held a day-long emergency first aid workshop to commemorate the International Volunteer Day under the theme “Volunteers Act First. Here. Everywhere.”.
UN Volunteers serve throughout UNAMID’s operations covering the vast Darfur region (approximately equivalent to the size of France). The environment is characterized by harsh conditions with extremely high temperatures, driving sand storms, and limited or non-existent local support mechanisms. Despite these challenges, UNAIMD successfully established a network of facilities and infrastructure in Darfur, including in remote deep-field locations, to support and achieve the mission’s Peacekeeping and Peacebuilding mandate.
On 19 August 2017, national UN Volunteer Ahmed Osman, serving as Protection Assistant with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Sudan, led an interactive discussion with youth on the importance of volunteerism to achieve peace and contribute to development across all communities. Ahmed highlighted how “the SDGs cannot be achieved without people’s engagement at all stages.” He also underlined that volunteers can facilitate and support participatory approaches in planning, implementing and monitoring the SDGs.
Decades of drought, floods and refugee influx, as well as war and displacement, has meant that the those living here have been through substantial challenges. About 67 per cent of children under the age of two suffer from growth stunting, the highest in the country. Before that, 245 of every 100,000 births ends in death; the second highest infant mortality rate in the country.
Sudan is a vast and diverse country with many facets. The landscape itself is reminiscent of this diversity – Sudan goes from hot deserts to green areas around the Nile. The same diversity applies to the faces of the people you meet. My experience in engaging with women as part of my assignment has also been quite diverse.
Armed conflict has incessantly affected the country. The role of women in the full spectrum of society is fluctuating. My volunteer assignment enables me to look at facets of this spectrum and contribute in any way I can.
In 2015, I got the opportunity to become a UN Volunteer Child Protection Officer with UNICEF in Sudan. In a country severely affected by armed conflict, displacement and food insecurity, the humanitarian needs remain critical. In addition to an estimated 2.2 million people displaced internally, Sudan has received over a quarter of a million refugees fleeing the war in South Sudan. Approximate 70 per cent of these displaced people are children.
Volunteerism as building blocks for peacebuilding, how does that work? For starters, volunteerism generates forms of social capital that are indispensable to peacebuilding and plays an important role in strengthening the development of national civilian capacities to address peacebuilding issues.
“We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in your hands to make a difference”. Building on these words by Nelson Mandela, UN Volunteers celebrated Mandela Day 2016 in Sudan by trying to improve life for kids in the Jaffar Ebn Aouf Pediatric Hospital in Khartoum.
Darfur, Sudan: In 2009, I joined UNAMID as a volunteer HIV and AIDS trainer/counsellor, after having served as a VSO volunteer HIV and AIDS advisor in Cambodia, and as an HIV and AIDS counsellor with TASO in my own country of Uganda. I am passionate about volunteering, having started work as a volunteer in Uganda, and born in a family of volunteers - my father and mother were community volunteers helping those in need.