Dermot Brazel of Ireland was working for a private logistics firm operating between Juba and Kabul, Afghanistan. Both places enabled him to observe the harsh realities and difficulties faced by people trying to rebuild their lives and country in the aftermath of conflict.
“With some encouragement from people I met along the way and after a lot of thinking, I decided to do something to help with the recovery. I have always been the practical kind of person and sought ways in which I could give something to these people. It seemed like my best way of volunteering was to try to impart knowledge to those who did not have the same learning opportunities as I had.
I worked for 14 years in hotel management and logistics all over the world, before joining UNMIS as a Facilities Management Assistant in the General Services Section (GSS). My work here primarily entails the mentoring and training of the national staff assisting the camp management. Together with my team, I facilitate the daily running of the UN team site premises and the accommodation in Aweil.”
Working with the local staff is for Dermot the best of the tasks he is assigned. He feels fortunate to be able to share his knowledge and skills with them, making a positive difference in his own way: “whether educationally or practically, they grow, they gain an experience which will help them by increasing their earning capacity.”
Dermot also looks for other ways in which he can contribute locally and support the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). He joined the Canadian UN Military Observers (UNMO) and Chinese Force Engineers to build concrete surrounds for shallow water wells in the schools of Aweil. The concrete is essential for reducing the risk of contamination in the water.
At the moment, Dermot is getting involved in the start-up of another community project, together with UNMOs from the Netherlands, the renovation of a school in Aweil town.
Living and working in Aweil has its many challenges, yet Dermot balances this with the reward of the experience: “As a UNV volunteer, I am not forced to stay here but do so gladly, regardless of the hardship, knowing that there is benefit in all of us being here to support the people of the Sudan."