Ebiboderi Nkeiruka Opukiri, is a 33-year-old from Nigeria, who is currently serving for peace as a UN Volunteer with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), believes that her work as an Administrative Officer forms the organizational backbone for the UN Peacekeeping mission to fulfil its mandate in the world’s newest nation.
Tell us a bit about your background.
I come from a large family and we’re quite close. My inspiration is my mother—she was the best administrator that I know to date. She passed away some 8 years ago but till now, she guides everything I do in my life through the values and principles she passed down to us. I owe her everything.
Could you explain what your job is and what is the impact you have on the ground?
As an Administrative Officer for the UNMISS Field Office in Western Bahr El Ghazal, I get to work a lot on the logistics and operational side of ensuring that our peacekeepers are fully on track to help build community confidence. I build relationships with a lot of in-mission interlocuters and I also help ensure staff welfare. It’s very interesting because I get to understand the nuts and bolts of what the world’s largest UN Peacekeeping mission does. The core of my job is people management and I think that’s where my biggest impact has been.
What do you like most about being a UN Volunteer?
The spirit of volunteerism is genuinely something I empathise with. There is no greater entry point into the United Nations system than a UN Volunteer – it enables you to contribute to a cause larger than yourself. It’s very gratifying and rewarding.
What one thing you have learnt since starting your mission?
I think the biggest lesson for me has been working and being productive in a multicultural environment. You will never find a place like the United Nations because the name reflects its character. This is a place that unites people to serve for peace and human rights. You get to meet different people every day. I have learnt a lot from colleagues across the world and made lifelong friends.
Do you have a message to other people who want to follow your career path?
Do it. Take the plunge. Pack your bag and accept the challenge. My family members were worried that I was heading to a duty station that is totally unfamiliar to me, but this was an opportunity to meet new people. It is a beautiful experience and exposes you to many possibilities where you can do anything, be anything.
Any message for the people of South Sudan?
To the people of South Sudan—I have come to learn about the history and the culture of this young nation. Building peace is hard, but things will get better and South Sudan will prosper; keep believing and you will get there. South Sudan is each one of you and you have a common responsibility to build durable peace for your children. Struggles are always part of the road to success and South Sudan shall prevail.