In my days as a UNV Interpreter, I undertake interpretation and translation services at the Emergency Transit Mechanism (ETM) in Gashora for evacuees from Libya
In line with the ETM's goals to provide emergency protection to refugees, asylum-seekers, children-and-youth at risk, I was privileged to have contributed towards the achievement of the goals of the ETM in particular and UNHCR and partners in general. In that endeavour, I have daily interactions with refugees, case workers and other staff of UNHCR and partner organizations.
Beyond executing my core task as an interpreter/translator, I believe my role helped me in building up a strong rapport which eventually made the evacuees feel well attended. The cultural connection I have makes the communication smooth in all aspects, and it also gives them courage to share their catastrophic life experiences and trauma without reservations, which is the first step towards a healing process and a journey to a descent life. My contribution is always sincerely appreciated by supervisors and colleagues for “displaying professionalism and trustworthiness” at work. For the whole process to be accomplished successfully, I play a vital role in creating conducive environment to encourage the evacuees to open up and cooperate throughout the entire process thereby contributing to the goals of UNHCR and partners in finding a durable solution for the evacuees.
The greatest challenge I was experiencing is the horrifying stories of the evacuees I hear every day which I never thought one would experience in life, and it affected me psychologically at first, which I started overcoming with time. The biggest lesson that I have taken is, how resilient we are and there is nothing more satisfying than seeing a happy and smiling refugee by just being kind to them. Covid-19 is still another worldwide challenge, it was an obstacle for us at first, because face to face interaction is really important to read all the emotions which makes it complete, we kept on processing our work remotely, but it was not satisfactory because there are some sensitive stories which really need physical presence to show them empathy as a human being, but with the situation getting better in Rwanda, we resumed the face to face interactions with due diligence to protection guidelines.
It is priceless when I see my effort is making a difference in many lives of refugees and the fact that I can witness this with my own eyes is so heart-warming. Volunteering is all about giving back to individuals or communities, locally or internationally and positively impacting their lives and contributing towards achievement of global efforts by UNHCR. Volunteering helped me to expand my views on the status of refugees across the globe, and efforts by UNHCR and partners, enriched my circle of friends and colleagues and learned a lot from everyone at work. Bottom-line, volunteering helped me become a better person professionally, socially, and ethically!