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International Volunteer Day: Sumeya Zainalaabideen

Sumeya Zeinalaabideen, a Sudanese national, is a United Nations Volunteer (UNV) with UNAMID’s Integrated Mission Training Centre. Originally a secondary school teacher, Sumeya, in this short interview, speaks of her three-year stint as a volunteer and the personal satisfaction it has given her.

Q: Tell us a bit about your work at UNAMID?

A: My story is interesting—I was initially hired to be a Language Trainer in English three years ago. However, due to the high demand for Arabic language skills within the Mission, I started facilitating Arabic classes at the Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced levels. Seeing the enthusiasm with which my work was received, I volunteered to conduct classes on Saturdays, which is officially a holiday for the Mission. I am very happy to say that my weekend lessons are still continuing and, so far, 35 groups of students have graduated successfully from my classes.

Q: Why did you become a UN Volunteer?

A: We Sudanese live in a society that naturally believes in volunteerism among our communities. We are always ready to extend a helping hand to friends, family members, neighbours and those less advantaged than us. The UN Volunteer programme, therefore, seemed a natural fit for me. I am a highly motivated person and being a UNV gives me tremendous personal satisfaction.

Q: What would you say to people who are looking to work with the UNV programme?

A: I always encourage people to volunteer in any capacity they can. The essence of volunteerism is such that it enables us to not only interact with a wide base of people but also to actually feel their hardships closely. This is my first deployment as a national UNV and it has been one of the most enriching experiences of my life.