UNICEF volunteerism in a foreign country

As a 10th grade student at the German school in Cairo, Egypt it is required of every student to take part in an volunteerism for two weeks at the end of the school year. As I have always been interested in UNICEF and the work they do I decided to fulfill my volunteerism at UNICEF in Conakry, Guinea. This way, I thought, I can learn more about what they do and how they help children, especially in an African country where much help is needed.

Of course going there I was very anxious because firstly, it was in a foreign country of which I didn’t know much about and secondly, I had never done a volunteerism and was worried I will not be able to fulfill all my tasks, especially because everyone there can speak french whilst I can’t.

On the first day, I was introduced to everyone at the facility and explained briefly what they do. Mirabelle, the HR manager, then showed me how to access some online-courses on the internet to introduce me better to UNICEF so that as I started my tasks I would already know more about the work they do.

The next few days I learned about communication with Fatoumata. I was showed how to edit articles to make sure they are ready to be posted online and then how to prepare them for social media such as Facebook and Twitter. At first it came as struggle for me to prepare these articles for the social media because I had to write a suitable message and choose a caption to fit the article so that it can be posted online but as the days passed it came easier to me and I no longer needed much help. As I had never worked on something online I was taught how these posts are then scheduled so that they can be automatically posted at the right time when people will be able to read them. At the conclusion of the first week I already felt like I had learned a lot and was really enjoying my volunteerism. Reading and editing these articles gave me more of an idea of how UNICEF does its work as these articles were mostly stories and reports such as helping achieve better sanitation and prevention of female genital mutilation (FGM).

For the next week we had already scheduled some meetings with more colleagues such as Charles, from the C4D section, Ahmat, from the health section and Aicha and Julie, from the protection section, so that I can learn more with UNICEF, Guinea specialists.

On the first day of the following week I learned a lot about what UNICEF does for children’s health with Ahmat. To achieve good health and prevent as many child deaths as possible there are three main factors: 1. Providing all children with vaccination for illnesses such as, but not limited to, malaria 2. Providing children who are already sick with good healthcare 3. Providing mothers that are pregnant with the service they need to ensure the infant’s health in the future.

The next topic was about child protection with Julie. I learned that in order to achieve child protection there are many different groups, such as families, communities, the health sector and educational facilities, that one must work and communicate with as is not an easy process.

The third section I visited was Communication For Development (C4D) with Charles and Mariam. They explained that the C4D department works to strengthen communities. They communicate with different groups such as youth, women, religious leaders and more to help teach them why some of their social norms or behavior should be changed such as not washing their hands often. They also use media such as the radio as it plays a crucial role in the communities.

Malak Elkoosy

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