Dinah Kayumba is no stranger to elections, Sudan or assignments as a United Nations Volunteer (UNV).
When the 53-year-old Zambian journalist arrived in Sudan last month to take up her duties as a public outreach officer for the UN Integrated Referendum and Electoral Division (UNIRED) in the city of Bor, it marked the beginning of her third stint as a UNV working on elections in a foreign country.
One of over 170 UN Volunteers who will be deployed to the county level in referenda support bases throughout Southern Sudan in the coming weeks, Ms. Kayumba has previously served in East Timor, where she journeyed in 1999 to work on a self-determination referendum in the former Portuguese colony, and Afghanistan.
For someone whose first work experience in Southern Sudan ended in serious illness and a medical evacuation two years ago, she sounds positively upbeat about her return to the region.
"I am happy to be back in Southern Sudan (as) part of the team that is going to prepare the people of Southern Sudan for the referendum," said Ms. Kayumba, who worked briefly in the south in 2008 as a communications officer with the UN Development Programme. "It's not my first time to work in referendum-related issues, and I am well prepared to take up the task."
Dinah and other UN Volunteers assigned to referenda support bases are working for UNIRED, which was established earlier this year to provide technical assistance and support to the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission.
Describing herself as a women's rights activist, Ms. Kayumba said she was the first woman to visit the Afghan city of Kandahar after the fall of the Taliban regime. There, she taught women about their rights in a country where they had not previously been allowed to speak in public.
Her ties to the UN date back to 1982 when she was nominated by the UN Information Service in the Austrian capital of Vienna to represent her native Zambia at a ceremony marking the International Day of Older Persons.
"I stayed there for a month and wrote a lot of articles about women, children and the aged," said Ms. Kayumba. "It was this exposure that opened me up for work with the UN."
Her most recent experience with elections occurred in her own country where Ms. Kayumba served as a coordinator of observers monitoring Zambia's 2006 general election.
"I want to wish the Southern Sudanese a peaceful referendum," she concluded. "I hope they will benefit from our presence here."