Volunteering in times of COVID-19
UN Volunteer Elin Langemar shares insights of volunteering for UNDP Moldova during the pandemic.
With a rich and diverse experience of living and working all over the world, Elin started her assignment as a UN Volunteer (UNV) for UNDP Moldova in October 2019. After less than half a year throughout her volunteering journey, COVID-19 happened. Looking back, we were curious to know how does volunteering work in current conditions and restrictions and what keeps our UNVs going.
Tell us more about your experience living in Sweden, working for UNDP Moldova in COVID-19 times? What motivates and inspires you to continue as a volunteer?
It’s now been more than six months since I left Moldova, just a couple of hours before they closed the airport due to the outbreak of the pandemic. I flew home to Stockholm where I live with my partner. I am mostly working at home, but occasionally I need some change of location. At those times I go sit at my partner’s office which is empty.
For me, it works well working remotely. I am lucky to be able to do all my work from my computer and this allows me to keep going despite all constraints. I really love my job and I feel that the work I am doing is important. It makes it easier to stay motivated and to be effective. The major difference working remotely is of course that I am not in the same office as my team. The effect is that all informal and spontaneous every-day interactions and conversations are left out. I think that this has an effect on many aspects, not least on people’s well-being as personal interactions are important. Fortunately, we have a lot of meetings online and we sometimes manage to also talk about other than work-related matters.
What do you miss most about Moldova?
I miss going to work at the UN House in Chisinau and seeing my colleagues. I also appreciated being present in the country in which our projects and activities take place.
I miss many other things about Moldova. The vegetarian food and the weather are two of them, another is the coffee at a special coffee shop close to the UN House. Before, I could not resist going there at least two times every day.
What would you recommend to other persons that are interested to start as volunteers during COVID-19 times?
Concerning all the restrictions, one has to think about how to contribute safely. The best way to do this is through online volunteering. Unfortunately, not everyone can contribute due to a lack of access to the Internet, computer, smartphone, or tablet. Until the pandemic is over this is one of the safest ways of helping others.
The UN is seeing on-line volunteering as a “force of global development” and if you are interested there are many different ways of engaging through UN Volunteers and especially to support the fight against the pandemic. You can read more about this on https://www.onlinevolunteering.org/en
Elin Langemar benefits from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Talent Programme for Young Professionals with Disabilities. Her position is funded by Sweden.
The UNDP-UNV Talent Programme aims to build a talent pipeline of highly qualified professionals with disabilities who can contribute to the development sector, and to attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at national and global levels.