With a background in Social Sciences; Conflict Resolution, Galaktion Chavleishvili of Georgia worked closely with Abkhazian and South Ossetian youth, in NGO projects aimed at dissolving ethnic stereotypes and animosities.
During the post-conflict reconciliation in the Georgian-Ossetian area, he started working in economic rehabilitation programmes led by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). "I was one of few Georgian citizens who were given a work and residence permit by the South Ossetian authorities," he remembers.
Then with eight years of experience in a post-conflict setting Galaktion joined the UNMIS Civil Affairs team in Bentiu, Unity State in August 2009:
"I believe everybody should volunteer their skills and part of their time for the betterment of humanity. When I was contacted by UNV, it felt like my time to do it. I came to Sudan looking for new people, new experiences, and new challenges that I will never experience in my country. The international experience will definitely be valuable when I return to my homeland.
As a Civil Affairs Officer and specialist in conflict resolution, my assignment focuses on advising local governmental authorities and communities, through frequent formal and informal visits. I also go on long-range patrols with UN Military Observers, UN Police, Humanitarian Affairs Officers and Child Protection Officers to take part in field visits, meeting with the different stakeholders, who are sometimes at odds with each other. This enables the Civil Affairs team to receive information from multiple sources to better analyse a situation.
Rapid political changes in Unity State keep me fully occupied. I have no chance to get bored. The work in such an environment is very demanding. We have to monitor various processes at the same time, working closely with political parties and governmental authorities. This requires a carefully elaborated approach. We are often constrained by lack of accessibility to certain areas where clashes or political tensions occur.
All this makes my life and work fascinating. Observing peaceful days in the area is a payback for the tremendous efforts of the team during tense days. The respect we are then paid by locals for the job we have done is the best part."