Sharing skills and knowledge with people around the world gives Liudmyla Odud from Ukraine both professional and personal satisfaction. As a UN Volunteer serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), working in a multinational and diverse context adds both to her learning experience and her ability to put her expertise to good use.
“I have been working here as an environmental engineer for two years. It is true that I don’t interact much directly with the communities we are here to serve, but I am confident that supporting my peacekeeping mission colleagues is essential to give them the conducive work environment they need to fulfill the UNMISS mandate,” says Liudmyla.
While she is based in the capital Juba, she and her three environmental engineering colleagues work for all the Mission’s field offices and other camps across South Sudan. The “cross-border” nature of Liudmyla’s work mimics the subject matter she deals with: the environment, in the broadest sense of the word, key to preserve earth and people alike, wherever they live.
“Development and improvements start with small steps. By minimizing our UNMISS environmental footprint, we also contribute to protecting our host communities from water-borne diseases, like diarrhoea, cholera and dysentery, and pollution,” she says, explaining that her own special skills focus on matters related to water and sanitation.
It is fair to say that Liudmyla’s work is both challenging and very much hands-on. Among other things, she uses her expertise to deal with the collection and treatment of wastewater, purification and storage of drinking water, and the disposal and segregation of what is euphemistically called solid waste.
“To put it simply, our objective is to decrease and improve the quality of the waste produced by our premises and staff, not least by reducing the hazardous open-air burning of everything we don’t need any more, thus improving the quality of the air all of us breathe as well.”
If this task does not sound easy, it is because it is not. The difficulties are particularly noticeable in a place like South Sudan.
“It is easy enough to draft fantastic plans, but as you go about trying to execute them, you can be sure of running into many practical obstacles. Weather conditions, for example, like heavy rains causing floods, often significantly affect scheduled works and the implementation of our projects,” Liudmyla notes.
Liudmyla Odud takes a holistic approach to both her work and to volunteering for the United Nations.
“We, humanity, are all facing and sharing the same fate. Climate change and global warming are for real, and they are crucial issues that we can only overcome with unity and compassion, which is also what being a volunteer is about. UN Volunteers bring people of diverse backgrounds together, for good and global causes.”
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).