I joined UNMIS in August 2009 as an Information Management Assistant with the Records Management and Archives (RMA) Unit in Khartoum. Prior to joining UNMIS, I was working with the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in my country, Tanzania. When I heard about the UN Volunteer programme, I became intrigued by the idea of working outside of my country, by the prospect of sharing my experience and the challenges involved.
My responsibility here is to manage records especially audiovisual records of the mission. The UNMIS sections targeted are the Public Information Office (PIO), audio, videos and photographs, Engineering and Geographic Information Systems.
Being a new project for UNMIS, my role is to start the proper management of audiovisual records; to highlight and raise awareness in meeting proper archival standards and to keep such records accessible to a wider public. I was also tasked to develop guidelines and manuals on how to manage and preserve the audiovisual records at UNMIS.
One of my aims is to assist in making UNMIS video, photographs and sound content as much a part of the cultural fabric in the UN as text-based content has always been. I do this by helping relevant sections make their collections accessible. UNMIS history is captured in images and sounds reflecting all major happenings throughout the mission’s mandate.
At the moment, I am helping PIO to bar-code, arrange and archive their video collection so that they have a standard video library enabling easy access and retrieval of their video tapes. This process will be finalised once a suitable database is introduced to the mission, to enable the digitalising of the whole video collection making the archival and backup process much easier.
Recently, our unit introduced and started an Oral History Project in order to capture the thoughts of departing staff from UNMIS. In the context of best practices, we are videotaping the responses to a series of questions as part of the check-out process. The overall purpose is to build a repository of knowledge that is accessible to all staff and enhance the check-out process in terms of passing on practical and accessible knowledge to other staff coming in to the mission.
Knowing that moving image and sound is powerful we need to treasure it. It has moved masses to riot and rejoice; forced international policies to change; given strength to the oppressed, and has informed public knowledge and perception. It has brought tears of joy and sadness; knitted communities together in friendship and love; inspired human creativity, and brought solace and hope to those in need. So lets save and savor our audiovisual collections; and remember that archivists can make it last longer.