Today June 2012
Volume 8, Issue 12
Sizzling Show of Talent at UN Idol By Ruby Ofori
ina Arden of the Philippine contingent won the first prize of US$ 1,000 in this year’s UN Idol contest with her captivating version of the song Zombie and a surprise drum riff as the talent show at Monrovia City Hall turned into a fabulous evening of entertainment and celebration. There were 13 contestants in all, each one of them offering superior performance, leading to waves of excitement and conflicting loyalties from the 500-strong audience in the plush auditorium. “Let me congratulate all the contestants. You are all winners,” said Moustapha Soumaré, Officer-in-Charge of UNMIL, noting that “the competition is not just about winning, it’s also about showing the talent that you have.” The contestants represented a broad range of nationalities including Christian Adukanya of Nigeria who bagged the second prize of US$ 250 for his performance of African Queen and Hassan Raza Bari from Pakistan who won the third prize of US$ 100 for the song Chop my money. Other contestants included Liberians Esterline Hutchins who sang I will survive, Joseph Kasselie singing The air that I breathe and Bill Timothy who sang Sharing the night. There were two Kenyans -- Obadiah Komen who sang Daima; and Jemina Ndege singing Sina Makosa. Kalawati Bouri of India belted out Doom Machale Doom Machale and her compatriot Suresh B sang Why this Kolaveri Di? Hugo Zambrano of Argentina sang If I Catch you; and Ann Britt Bohm of Sweden sang her self-written song titled Liberia Live in Peace. From Bangladesh, Mohammad Saiful Islam
Inside this Issue:
Beyond Work JORMED Outreach ...... Pg. 3
sang Bangala. “Artists are those who can make you laugh and cry at the same time and take you through a journey. We’ve gone through an emotional journey tonight,” said the UN Envoy quoting Djeli Baba Sisoko, a great musician from Soumaré’s home country of Mali. In a special tribute, Soumaré awarded a Certificate of Commendation to Chester Fernandez, the UNMIL Welfare and Recreation Committee leader whose energy and drive powered the competition since its inception in 2007. Fernandez told UNMIL Today he was “going back to India to take a break and see what I can do next again.” In his tribute to Fernandez, Soumaré said: “I want to thank you for all that you have done. You are the hard working brain behind UN Idol together with Lourdes Rodas, Chester’s partner in crime.” The Head of UNMIL wished Fernandez a “safe journey,” back home. Fernandez said he was thankful for the consistent support of the UNMIL senior leadership to the competition throughout its existence. All the contestants were awarded a certificate of participation by Vincent Smith, Officer-in-Charge of the office of the Director of Mission Support and Chairman of UNMIL Welfare and Recreation Committee. Also in attendance at the event were Brig.-Gen. John Kwasie, the Deputy Force Commander, and Brig.-Gen. Zahid Hussain, the Commander of Sector B. Soumaré thanked the two masters of ceremonies, Yede Alison and Chris Wollo, both of UNMIL Radio, for generating a mood of anticipation and excitement throughout the show. He thanked the UNMIL Welfare and Recreation Committee for organizing a “wonderful evening.”
Photo Gallery UN Idol ....... Pg. 6-7
Around LiberiaToday - 1 June 2012 - UNMIL
Management Training .... Pg. 8
From the Editor
his year’s UN Idol event, now a prominent annual fixture in the Mission’s calendar, turned out to be an unforgettable evening filled with scintillating performances by the contestants. We bring you the details in our cover story and a photo gallery captures the contestants in action and the excited audience. The celebrations marking the Day of the African Child saw hundreds of children thronging the SKD stadium in high spirits. The observance this year, focusing on disabled children, had the local theme : ”I am Able!”
Hundreds of residents of Brewerville in Monsterrado County benefitted from a medical outreach by Jordanian Level III hospital while doctors from the Pakistani Level II hospital in Harper organized a Basic Life Support course for paramedics in Maryland County and the Indian FPU 2 organized a blood donation camp in Grand Gedeh County, seting an example by donating blood themselves. Nearly 600 people of Kahatan village in Montserrado County benefitted from a medical outreach by Nigerian peacekeepers while their Pakistani counterparts offered free medical care to over 800 residents of Careysburg. Filipinio peacekeepers reached out to an orphanage in Monrovia with goodies such as movies and food loffering the children an unforgettable afternoon while the Ghanaian peacekeepers continued with their teaching assistance to various schools. Do you know laughter is the best medicine? We have advice for you from the Staff Counselling Unit on how to laugh your stress away! Read on. Mathew Elavanalthoduka
Stand Up for Your Rights, Soumaré Urges Liberian Children By James S. King
utgoing Deputy Special Representative for Recovery and Governance, Moustapha Soumaré, has urged Liberian children to stand up for their rights and voice their concerns over issues that affect their growth and survival. Speaking at the closing ceremony of the commemoration of this year’s Day of the African Child (DAC) at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Monrovia, Soumaré praised physically challenged Liberian children whose performances sought to dispel negative perceptions about people with disabilities. The theme of this year’s celebration was: “The Rights of Children with Disabilities: The Duty to Protect, Respect, Promote and Fulfill” with the local theme in Liberia being “I am Able!” Children with various disabilities participated in sporting and musical events. “Please keep rowing your boat to fulfill your dreams. Your golden songs have inspired me,” Soumaré said. The vitality and creativity demonstrated by the physically challenged children dispelled the perception that disability is an end to life, he said. DAC represents an opportunity for the world to focus on all forms of violations against the rights of the African child and therefore serves as a forum for governments and international institutions including UN and the African Union to renew commitments to protecting the rights of the African child and marginalized populations, Soumaré said. The UN envoy urged the Liberian government to address “obstacles preventing implementation of protocols on child rights.” Youth and Sports Minister Tonorla Vapilah stressed the need for parents and government authorities to ensure commitments to a better environment for children. He thanked UNMIL for helping to celebrate the Day of the African Child.
2 - UNMIL Today June 2012
Chairperson of the National Commission on Disability (NCD) Ricardia Dennis said investing in the health and education of African children and mothers brings about reduced infant mortality and is “a step towards improving African society.” She blamed parental neglect and increasing incidents of preventable diseases as some of the problems affecting the growth and development of the African child. The International Day of the African Child has been celebrated on June 16 every year since 1991, when it was first initiated by the Organization of African Unity to honour those who participated in the Soweto uprising in 1976. On that day about ten thousand black school children marched to protest the poor quality of their education and demanding their right to be taught in their own language. They were shot at and more than hundred people died in the protests that ensued. Seemah Weafur, a visually impaired student of Christian Association of the Blind, sent a strong message in a poem he created... “Don’t only look at my physical disability because I have rich mental abilities. I may not see a sunrise or sunset but I can be what I waant to be because I am able. Don’t judge me by my disabilities, know my abilities.”
By James S. King
ore than 900 residents of Plumkor Community in Brewerville, Montserrado County, benefited from a medical outreach conducted in March by the JORMED Level III Hospital administered by the Jordanian contingent. Services provided included medical exami-
nation, treatment and meals for children. Col. Ghazi Altawarah, Head of JORMED Level III Hospital, spoke of the warm reception he and his staff received from the residents of Plumkor Community. JORMED Level III Hospital plans to include first aid training for young people aged 10 to 15 in its next cycle of community outreach. Altawarah said first aid training could help enhance the youngsters’ knowledge about managing injuries they usually sustain as they go about playing games and other sporting activities. He said the outreach serves to strengthening relationships between the peacekeepers and local residents. Ghazi urged parents to send their kids to school as education helps one acquire better livelihood. He also advised young people to remain loyal to their country for stability and development. Priscilla G. Bedell, Principal of J. Dwalu Kimba Episcopal Elementary and Junior High School which was the venue for the outreach, said the service was rewarding and good for the people of the community. “We are satisfied with the level of service provided because all the children and elders received ample medication, something I did not anticipate,” she said. Bedell thanked UNMIL and Jordanian contingent for the service, first of its kind in Plumkor community.
Driving Tips for Rainy Season A rainy day can be invigorating. However, driving in the rain can be quite dreadful and dangerous. Driving at night is even worse. You may be a very safe and defensive driver, obeying all traffic laws, but what about the pedestrians and other drivers around you? Here are two tips to help you avoid accidents as you drive in the rain.
Keep both hands on the steering wheel at all times. All dis- tractions should be off and away from you! Cell phones, ipods, other gadgets, etc.
Drive at or below the speed limit you are comfortable with and make sure you can see far enough in front of you to ap- propriately make unexpected driving decisions.
Published by the Public Information Office, UNMIL Chief of Public Information Isabelle Abric Head of Publications Mathew Elavanalthoduka Editorial Team Ruby Ofori James S. King
Design and Graphics Paddy Defoxy Ilos, II Thomas S. Blidi Photos Staton Winter Emmanuel Tobey
www.unmil.unmissions.org June 2012 - UNMIL Today - 3
JORMED Extends Medical Outreach to Brewerville
PakMed Trains Liberian Paramedics in Basic Life Support
By William Bwewusa
Doctors from the Pakistani Level II hospital in Harper organized a Basic Life Support (BLS) course early in the month of June for paramedics in Maryland County. According to PakMed CIMIC Officer Maj. Usman Iqbal, the training at the JJ Dossen Hospital was attended by 15 paramedics and two drivers. It was organized in conjunction with Merlin, an international NGO, and the County Health Team (CHT). Maj Iqbal said participants were trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), handling of injured victims, as well as first aid management of common medical and surgical emergencies. Training focused on improving practical skills. The course content was designed by the training department of PakMed Level II hospital in consultation with other specialists and representatives of Merlin International. The training involved use of visual aid, including video demonstrations and dummies. Participants were acquainted with the use of emergency equipment such as the defibrillator, the ambu bag (a self re-inflating bag used during resuscitation) and airways. They were taught safe handling of poly trauma cases, rehearsed the retrieval of injured victims from the site of injury, with emphasis on precautions to be taken while transporting such cases to the hospital. The training also included management of shock, head injury and fractures. Practical demonstrations were provided on application of POP (plaster of Paris) and the use of various types of splints. Facilitators included Maj. Amir (anesthetist), Maj. Raheel (surgeon), Maj. Usman (physician), and Maj. Jamil (surgeon). At the certificate award ceremony, UNMIL Sector B Commander, Brig.-Gen. Sher Afgun lauded the capacity building efforts of Merlin International, the County Health Team and Pak Med Level II hospital, describing their support as “a great service to humanity”. The participants, too, deeply appreciated the initiative. “I am particularly grateful to UNMIL peace keepers for going beyond
your peace keeping duty to teach us this basic life support skill,” said Harris J. Sumo, Jr., a registered nurse from Harper. Among other assistance extended to local health facilities, PakMed Level II Hostpital provides specialist healthcare services (radiology, ophthalmology, surgery and medicine) at the JJ Dossen Hospital, and technical support including upgrading various departments of the referral hospital in Harper. PakMed recently helped install at JJ Dossen new electro-medical equipment including an Electro Cardio Gram donated by Merlin.
Indian FPU 2 Reaches Out to Liberians With Blood Donation
embers of the Indian FPU turned out en masse on 14 June to donate blood during a special campaign organized by the County Health Team in Grand Gedeh, on the occasion of this year’s World Blood Donor Day. In all, 11units of blood was donated. The blood donation camp at the Zwedru City Hall was organized in collaboration with the Grand Gedeh branch of the Voluntary Blood Donor Association of Liberia (VOBDAL). Other highlights of the event, initiated by the Indian FPU 2, included a blood donation march in the streets of Zwedru to create public awareness, followed by an indoor programme at the City Hall. That function was attended among others by local dignitaries. Speaking at the event, FPU 2 Medical Officer Dr. Heera Raja underscored the importance of voluntary blood donation and the need to sensitize the public about this humanitarian gesture. From the ceremony at the City Hall, the campaign shifted to the Blood Bank of the Martha Tubman Memorial Hospital, Zwedru.
4 - UNMIL Today June 2012
There, medics of the India FPU-2 set the ball rolling by personally donating blood. The Indian FPU-2 Commander and other officers were actually among the first to have their blood drawn. The initiative, unprecedented in Grand Gedeh, was highly appreciated by the County authorities.
By Michael Olu-Olofin
t was on a Saturday afternoon in June with perfect sunny weather at the seaside borough of New Kru Town in the outskirts of Monrovia where hundreds of people gathered to enjoy a show marking the climax of a week-long campaign on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA). Organized by the Community Outreach Unit of UNMIL Public Information, the show including drumming and singing by traditional groups of communicators and musical bands, as well as the comedy of Liberia’s popular comedian, Georgio Boutini who left hundreds of people laughing in stitches at the D. Tweh High School Sports pitch. The musical concert also featured popular Liberian artists like Ragga E Man, Ben O Gibson, Chu Chu Wolo and the popular Liberian hit song – Da Ma Area (It’s my area). Balawala Traditional group with their music and brilliant acrobatic displays attracted many young men and women to the programme. The UN has a zero tolerance policy on SEA. Routinely, the Outreach Unit organizes traditional groups of communicators and youth groups to take the message to the grassroots using drumming, singing, comedy, door to door sensitization, videos, flyers, posters and T- shirts. The Governor of the Borough, Roosevelt S.M. Tobi, reminded New Kru Town community dwellers of the importance of respecting the rights of women and putting an end to SEA. He also called on all, particularly the young
Massive Turnout of People for Free Medical Care by Nigerian Contingent
here was a massive turnout of people when the Nigerian Contingent offered free medical care to the residents of Kahatan village, Montserrado Country from 1-12 June. Nearly 600 people were treated including children at the local orphanage. The Sector medical team led by Captain V.E.
Aggrey treated minor illnesses and administered medicines for various illnesses including malaria, upper respiratory tract infections, gastroenteritis during the successful outreach. Meanwhile, the 12th Nigerian Signals Battalion taught the basics of using a computer at the Kahatan Childrens’ Village at Brewerville Montserrado. A total of 20 students were introduced to the fundamentals of computer, basic computer components, the operating system and application packages. A certificate of participation was presented to the school at the end of the training. Classes continued at a number of schools in Montserrado County with the help of teachers from the 27th Nigerian Battalion(NISIG 27). Officers of NISIG 27 taught at the Liberia Islamic Unity Foundation School, the Apostolic Foundation High School and the AM Fofana Islamic and English School in Monrovia area. In the course of the teaching, a news team from China Central TV Africa, Nairobi, Kenya visited some schools, as part of efforts to promote the Civil Military Cooperation activities being carried out by UNMIL
June 2012 - UNMIL Today - 5
men, not to resort to violence against people he described as, “our mothers and sisters.” Following the musical concert, there was a grand finale featuring a football match between Lagoon Community and Clayporponton community. The game ended in victory for Lagoon community. The winners were presented with a special trophy. Leading to the climax, traditional and youth groups visited the twenty communities that housed close to 90,000 residents of the borough, including, among others, Colonel West, Point Four, St Paul’s Bridge, Clayporponton, Momo Town East, Momoh Town West and Bong Mines Bridge.
New Kru Town Talks about Sexual Exploitation & Abuse
UN Idol in Pictures
6 - UNMIL Today June 2012
UN Idol in Pictures
June 2012 - UNMIL Today - 7â€‚
Management Training Benefits UNMIL National Staff By James S. King
NMIL’s Integrated Mission Training Centre (IMTC) continues to strengthen capacities of Liberians in various professional fields with the aim of preparing them to contribute to Liberia’s development. On 20 June 2012 IMTC, in collaboration with Cuttington University (CU), graduated 31 UNMIL national staff after completing three months of training in Administrative Management at Cuttington University. The event took place at German Embassy compound in Congo Town, Monrovia. “Nearly 184 national staff members of UNMIL have benefited from training and received accreditations from local vocational training institutions,” said Maria Cecelia Icaro, describing IMTC’s capacity building efforts in various fields. She said identifying the best university and budget preparation for the training, including transport service, posed challenge for the IMTC management. She thanked IMTC Programme Coordinator Anne Njoroge and her team for successful implementation of the training programme. Frederick S. Gbegbe, Sr., CU’s Vice President for Graduate School and Professional Studies termed the graduation exercise as “another fulfillment of CU’s mandate to develop capacities of Liberians.” Established in 1889, CU formerly Cuttington University College (CUC) introduced its Graduate School for Professional Studies in 2004 following the end of Liberia’s civil conflict. The graduate school is situated in Monrovia while the undergraduate school is situated within the institute’s main compound in Suakoko, Bong County, in central Liberia. Gbegbe said initially the Graduate School for Professional Studies was set up to provide professional training opportunities for non graduate students. With growing need for Liberia’s rapid development of its human resources and infrastructures, there is an equally increasing need to modify training curriculum and de-
velop new ones for the Graduate School for Professional Studies, Gbegbe said. He said CU is considering extending its graduate programmes to the university’s main facilities in Suakoko, to provide services to UNMIL’s national staff in the area. UNMIL’s Chief Administrative Services Vincent Smith urged the graduates to use the training they received for the benefit of society. “Your training experiences should present knock on effect on everyone you encounter. The benefit of the training is that you have learned something that will make you appealing and stronger for future employers,” Smith said. Speaking on behalf of fellow graduates Safiatu Kamara-Gant of UNMIL PIO quoted Bernadette Lahai: “if you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate the nation”. Kamara said the training did not only address issues in Management and Administration, but it also provided a forum for acquiring knowledge in computer software executions, negotiation skills, marketing, budgeting, entrepreneurship, and leadership, among others.
Pakistani Peacekeepers Offer Free Medical Care in Careysburg
undreds of local residents of Careysburg, including many children, were offered free medical care, clothes, and a delicious lunch and sweets courtesy of the Pakistan Engineering contingent on 25 June. The event took place at the Voice of America Health Clinic compound in Careysburg. Over 800 residents benefited from the medical outreach which was aimed at supporting the underprivileged in the communities and also to raise awareness about basic health issues. The medical team was made up of three doctors, five paramedics, 15 local nurses and 50 Junior Commissioned Officers, who dealt with the management of the camp. Officials of PAKENG 17 said the support and assistance of the local police and Liberian medical administration officials “proved handy.” The most common illnesses treated included malaria, scabies, lumbago, umbilical hernia, gastroenteritis, allergic conjunctivitis, infected wounds and chicken pox. Josephine G. Francis, Representative of District One, thanked the peacekeepers for their service to the residents of Careysburg. “We, the Liberian people, are indebted to UNMIL and Pak Engineer-17 for their invaluable services and assistance,” she said. The Commander, Sector B, and Contingent Commander, Brig.-Gen. Zahid Hussain also visited the camp.
8 - UNMIL Today June 2012
Commanding Officer PAKENG -17, Lt.-Col. Kamran Arshad Satti said more such camps would be organized at regular intervals at various locations to provide maximum possible medical support to the community.
By Laetitia Ciza
he memory of the tragic Rwandan Genocide of 1994 was commemorated in Monrovia by the local Rwandan community as well as UN staff and members of the East African Community. The candle-lit ceremony held at the German Embassy featured two documentary films on the genocide titled Let us join efforts to fight trauma and Dreams for the Future. The keynote speaker at the event was Ademola Araoye , UNMIL’s Chief of Political Planning and Policy. At least 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were killed in 1994 over a period of three months following the death of the then president Juvenal Habyarimana in a plane crash. This year, the commemoration was organized in different parts of the world under the theme “Learning from History to shape a bright future.” Since 1994, Rwanda has made considerable progress towards a more peaceful and just society. Echoing the theme, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the only way to prevent such atrocities from occurring again is to learn from history. “Rwanda has learned from the appalling tragedy of 1994. So has the world,” Ban said in a video message. “Rwanda is making progress towards building a more peaceful and just society. The international community is striving to ensure that similar tragedies never happen again,” he said. Ban highlighted efforts by the international community to strengthen conflict prevention and mediation and to uphold the responsibility to protect. “The United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda delivered the first ever verdicts in relation to genocide by an international court, and continues to pursue justice and accountability. The International Criminal Court has become an effective deterrent for would-be perpetrators of grave crimes,” Ban said. “And to those who persist in suppressing their fellow citizens who cry out for dignity and freedom, we send a clear message: justice will be done.” The UN chief emphasized that genocide is a collective responsibility and called on countries to continue to work together to ensure a future free of genocide. The tragedy of the Rwanda Genocide is commemorated annually on 7 April.
LNP Officers Benefit from Training By Paula Theliander
More than 40 Liberian National Police (LNP) officers received their diploma in May after graduating from a skills development course at the National Police Training Academy (NPTA) in Paynesville. The two-week course was a welcome opportunity for the selected participants to acquire knowledge in Management and Leadership, Report Writing, and computer programmes such as Microsoft Word and Excel. The LNP police officers came from several departments, including Women and Children Protection Section (WACPS), Gender Unit and from NPTA. The participants were in four groups in order to make closer linkages among officers deployed in headquarters and in different Zones and Depots in Monrovia. This will enhance closer cooperation among the units. The training was provided by UNMIL IMTC. June 2012 - UNMIL Today - 9
Rwanda Genocide Remembered
UNMIL Observes Road Safety Week By James S. King
NMIL Deputy Force Commander Brig.-Gen. John Kwasie has termed the reduced road accident rate amongst UNMIL Military contingents during the last six months as “a remarkable achievement.” He was speaking at the celebrations marking UNMIL’s Road Safety Week programme in June. This is an achievement resulting from measures put in place by the military after recording various road accident incidents within the mission. According to Brig.-Gen. Kwasie, following observance of Road Safety Week last November, UNMIL Military realized that it had not participated well in road safety measures. Soon, a road safety committee, headed by a colonel, was constituted to raise road safety awareness amongst contingent members which led to a reduction in road traffic accidents within the military. Road safety guidelines were introduced aimed at ensuring adherence by all military road users. He cited non use of mobile phones and reduced speed as good driving rules that are to be followed to reduce accidents. The Deputy Force Commander said the military has seen the need to “vigorously pursue safe driving measures” with deployment of additional activities to encourage and motivate safe driving amongst military personnel. Additional activities include med-
als and certificates, separate from regular UNMIL awards, given to good drivers. He said the awards will be presented to winners during UNMIL Medal Parade ceremonies. Vincent Smith, Chief Administrative Services, said road traffic accidents usually cause injuries and deaths amongst UNMIL personnel. He said UNMIL will continue to enhance capacity of Liberia National Police by raising awareness about road safety amongst LNP personnel. Smith said raising awareness about road safety is part of the Mission’s capacity building initiative in Liberia. He said Road Safety Week activities included display of posters inscribed with road safety messages, internet messaging, screening of video at UNMIL headquarters, and security spot checks with UNMIL drivers, among others. “We are not getting new vehicles anymore and we must use the ones available properly to avoid going short of supplies,” said Smith. He urged drivers to focus attention on the road, maintain speed limits and to refrain from use of mobile phones and drunk and aggressive driving. UNPOL Planning Coordinator Sajjad Afzal Afridi said UNPOL is working with LNP to ensure enforcement of traffic rules on Liberia’s roads. Afridi said Liberia has a “long way to go with enforcement and regulations of road traffic rules and guidelines.” Fifty-seven UNMIL personnel were presented with certificates in recognition of their excellent driving skills.
Philippine Contingent Raises Spirits of Monrovia’s Orphans Not having your parents around to take care of you as a child is a tough situation which is why 48 children of the Life Village, an orphanage in Monrovia, were delighted to see members of the Philippine Contingent bringing movies, food and good cheer during a regular Saturday visit. The children were treated to interactive games, followed with lectures exclusively for the girls on topics such as menstruation; the female reproductive system and personal hygiene. They all tucked into their “Sopas,” a delicious Philippine meal of macaroni and soup. Lieutenant Colonel Cornelios Banas said: “The children really enjoyed the film show and appreciated the food. There were no left overs.” He said these visits will take place every Saturday. 10 - UNMIL Today June 2012
By Sarah-Jane Mungo
The smile says it all …. Chester Fernandez or ‘Daddy,’ as some local staff like to call him has been a Logistics Assistant with the Integrated Support Services Section of UNMIL since 2006. After his return home to India this June, ‘Daddy’ will be sorely missed. Fernandez first served as a UN volunteer in East Timor as a District Electoral Officer for that country’s first post-conflict elections. He applied for the UNV position by chance and according to him, it was a turning point in his life. “My perception of life changed drastically with that first assignment in East Timor in the late 90s. To see people living in such dire circumstances and still be able to give you a smile was something sublime.” Africa was always on his mind and so he fully embraced the opportunity to come to Liberia. “I always had a craving to visit Africa and I really did not care which part. I wanted to see the reality of the Africa I had heard of from my African colleagues and friends whom I had met in East Timor and Kosovo.” Liberia reminded him of Kerala the southern Indian state where he was born. He was equally moved upon arrival in Liberia to see similarities in smiles on the faces of Liberians. “It was intriguing.” Despite all the hardship, people still managed to smile. However in Liberia, one could feel the full impact of a post-conflict situation, he said pensively. “The remnants of the war could be seen
in every bullet hole that still remains on buildings. Everyone had a story connecting them to the horrors of the war, yet they live with such hope that life must go on and that they would be saved. They leave everything to God.” Chester is the father of two sons whom he lost in unfortunate accidents in 1999 and 2006. He credits joining the UNV Programme with helping him to heal after such personal tragedy. “The balance was perfect with me joining the UN. It had a sort of calming effect on me and allowed my inner healing. Mixing with over 139 nationalities at all different levels has been mind boggling,” he says with a smile. His relationship with the national staff he worked with has been stellar. “I found it easy to work with Liberians.” I strive to lead by example and I think that is what we should all do as they say “You must practice what you preach”. “I use humor as a tool to relate and get my messages and thoughts across. I thoroughly enjoyed mentoring national staff. I loved seeing them progress and grow professionally and as individuals.” His supervisors also hold him in very high esteem and appreciate both his professionalism and his spirit of volunteerism. “Chester is an inspiration,” said Marsha Jones, Administrative Officer of ISS. “He is a man who knows how to inspire the best in people. He really has that special ‘flavor” and I enjoyed my time working with him.” For most people Fernandez will always be remembered as the man who made UN Idol work. He ran the show since its inception in 2007. The idea brewed out over a cup of coffee with Ms. Stephanie Scheer, the former CAS, he said. “It was a sheer joy interacting and talent scouting for the show over the past years,” he adds. Chester is ready for the next chapter of his life and advises all UN Volunteers and UNMIL colleagues that “true happiness” comes from making a difference in the lives of others. “If you can try to touch one soul at a time each day, do it. Or at least if you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours”
Ghanaian Contingent Teaches and Cheers Orphaned Kids The Ghanaian contingent has been busy training youths and encouraging orphaned children to smile this June. Thanks to Ghanabatt officers the residents of Buchanan learned plant maintenance, building construction, a little bit about information and communication technology and electrical installation at the Technicl Training Centre the peacekeepers have set up in Buchanan. But that was not all, students of the Grand Bassa community College were delighted by the Ghanbatt officers who showed up at their school to teach them courses in Pharmacology, medical nursing, anatomy and physiology. Teachers at the Gorblee Senior High School also hailed the Ghanbatt personnel who taught them English, Maths, Physics and Geography. Ghanbatt contingent members also donated food items to the very happy children of the God’s Heritage and the Good Samaritan Orphanages in Buchanan this month.
June 2012 - UNMIL Today - 11
Did You Know? Chester Fernandez
12 - UNMIL Today June 2012