“There is not one thing we can do successfully on the continent of Africa today, if it be of impact, without Africa’s youth”, said in May of this year the UNDP Regional Director for Africa, Ahunna Eziakonwa. On the week of the International Youth Day (12th August) we recall Ahunna's words as we reflect on how the voices and actions of young people have made a difference in the african continent and in the world. With gratitude, we tell you here the stories and testimonies of four young people who help the United Nations Development Program fulfill its mission in Angola.
Every day they donate their energy, creativity and initiatives, in the most diverse areas of the UNDP office, to ensure that projects and plans are carried out as planned and that they reach everyone, especially the most vulnerable.
“I am Anderson Makonda, I am 29 years old and I am an Administrative Assistant and Driver. I have been working for over 9 months at the United Nations Development Program office in Benguela.
“I am honored to work for the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically in the area of Health and Welfare and under the motto 'giving your life to save lives'”. The young man supports the UNDP and Global Fund project to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and is proud to participate in the “pilot project that will help the national health system” fight these three diseases “and Covid-19, which is one of the main problems facing the world today”.
“Every day I fall more in love with my work and my life has changed since I started working at UNDP. On a scale of 1 to 10, I give it a 9. I can say that the Anderson of yesterday is not the same as today. UNDP shaped me and I became more confident, hopeful and I dream more.
In my opinion, youth is important to actively shape the role of UNDP in the country and in the world. Youth wants to improve, wants to be on another level. Many are looking to develop themselves in different areas, on a personal and professional level, and develop skills to create businesses. Today, young people are hungry for knowledge and for creating opportunities for themselves and for others and to help fulfill goals that help everybody. Young people end up being positive, proactive, and eager to see many problems solved and participate in the solution and design of various programs that the world has been facing, in the context of their development. Today we have an Angolan youth that is increasingly interventionist.”
I am Josyanne Costa, I am 25 years old, and I work as a HR and Procurement Assistant for UNDP since 2018.
I believe my work is important for UNDP Angola because every activity and result is achieved with the direct contribution of the operations unit, where I am part of. We are responsible for several activities that involve people and goods & services management. But in overall, we are responsible for the acquisition of all goods and services and handling the system that ensure that every service provided is delivered in accordance to the UNDP policies in order to fulfill the UNDP units and partner’s needs. Thanks to our work they are able to move with their daily activities and combine efforts to achieve their goals. In addition, I am part of a team that is responsible of human resources management, where our work is done keeping in mind that the people we have with us and the people we want are going to focus on what is really important: Angola’s Development.
Since I started to work for UNDP I had the chance to improve myself personal and professionally. Several opportunities were given to me and I’m very grateful to be in an environment full of challenges and learning opportunities. At the moment I consider myself as a working in progress professional but until this day I have learned a lot of technical and behavioral skills that changed my way of doing and see things, therefore I’m looking forward to continuing to grow and explore new perspectives in this work environment.
We are in a context where youth is moving really fast towards development. We want to create, to change and see the world as a better place, this is our strength and we are available! I believe that every young mind can relate and feel represented by the UNDP role in the country and in the world because, the same as Youth, UNDP is in a process of empowering the growth and development of different contexts by exploring alternative ways of doing things and working with innovative ideas. I believe that these two energies combined will create synergies that will make goals achievements more effective.
A moment at work I will never forget?
My mother tongue is Portuguese and I have been learning English by myself since I was a little girl, but I had never been in an environment where everyone speaks English until 2019. UNDP gave me the opportunity to participate in a UN Volunteer Workshop in Kenya and, for the first time, I was involved in a activity where I had to interact and develop teamwork activities with colleagues from different countries, for 5 days straight. The fact that I had to get out of my comfort zone and embrace this moment was very challenging for me. Fortunately, I have discovered some language and behavioral skills that I believe that were hidden because I was never exposed to such environment. I will always be grateful to UNDP for this experience because the learning and exchange of experiences with colleagues was priceless.
I am Nelma Saiundo Pereira, I am 28 years old and I am a Procurement and Supply Management Assistant. I have been working for UNDP for 5 Years. I started with a six months internship with no forecast to be extended, but I did my job so well that my supervisor proposed that I stayed as a consultant. After my contract ended, I applied for a Services Contract vacancy and I passed. So I became the first intern to stay in UNDP and become a service contract.
I believe my work is essential for UNDP and Angola because my job helps UNDP reach the many Goals leading Angola to development. I feel that when I do my work efficiently, I am helping at least one person.
I like what I am doing. I enjoy working knowing that I can help people and help a country, not for profit. Before knowing the UNDP world, I believed that work was to give me money to be a successful person; now, work means more. Working at UNDP makes me more human. I think I understand more, I see others more and I can put myself in their shoes. I ws always a fair person, but now I feel that I am more. I fight for equality, gender, race, and all kinds of equality that human beings can achieve. UNDP taught me and made me enjoy fighting for the minorities.
Youth people come with new ideas, new ways to see the world and can change minds. We need to start thinking differently to do things differently. Youth has the new blood, the new ideas that the country and the world needs.
A moment at work I will never forget?
When I started as an intern, UNDP didn't give any subsidy to the interns. After two months, I participated in a staff meeting and was amazed to see that the UNDP interns were included in the meeting and had a voice as any employee. The purpose of the meeting was for each one to indicate the strengths and challenges of their work.
At that time, we were three interns and at a certain point we were allowed to speak. I was the last to speak and, after talking about my work, I spoke in behalf of my fellow interns, that lived far from the office. I was forced to intervene because I had a car, but they didn't. The lack of subsidy was making it difficult for them to access the office and to perform their duties. This internship would favour young angolans who can afford a car and would not help the many competent low-income youngsters.
The meeting was being led by the then Resident Coordinator, who at the time was also the Resident Representative, the Director of the Country, and I asked UNDP representatives to consider implementing at least one transport subsidy so that everyone could have the same opportunities. After a few days I was surprised by the news that my request was heard and from that moment on the trainees started receiving a transport subsidy, that continues until now. Over time, the value improved, and today we have a more fair system for interns.
I am Edgar Muinga, I am 26 years old and I am a Digital Graphic Designer. I have been working for UNDP for about a month.
The world is now assuming models and communication formats that are very much guided by the predominance of fast-consuming images and messages. Communicating efficiently and at the speed of people has become a key tool to be understood and to take action.
Visual design/communication facilitates this process by transforming volumes of information that institutions such as UNDP usually work with, making it easy for most to understand and for putting government actions in people's eyes. This process is useful for citizenship.
Youth have the energy that is needed to catalyze change and development in any country like ours around the world. In the last two decades we had several examples, across the continent and globally, of how youth engagement is relevant to reshaping perspectives and leading us in scenarios where different voices are important and gain notoriety. Young people need to be given more access to policy tools.
The fact that the first project to develop the visual was one for something that acts for extremely important topics in public health in the country.