As the COVID-19The pandemic continued into the second year. Unsurprisingly, many of our 2021 heroes were health workers who took great personal risks to ensure the survival of their communities.
We ask God to spare us from famine
These risks are magnified in conflict zones, where workers continue to provide healthcare services against all odds.
Yemen Asia El-Sayeed AliHer family was forced to leave their home in Aden, and she had to move in with relatives. She now works in a World Food Programme-supported health clinic.WFP), where she cares for children, and their mothers, suffering from malnutrition.
Ms. El-Sayeed Ali states that I provide nutrition treatment to mothers who bring in children suffering from malnutrition. She is advised to bring them back the next week. I feel relieved when she returns and I see that the child has gained weight. I also notice that her cheeks are fuller.
I love working at the clinic. My heart breaks when I see children suffering from hunger or pain. However, I can make an impact on mothers’ lives and bring a smile to the faces of children.
Helping the Afghan people
In Afghanistan, following the take-over by the Taliban, Dr Khali Ahmadi* told UN News in an Exclusive interviewIn August, he spoke from Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital. He said that he and other Afghan healthcare workers are still working despite the instability and lack security. He also called on the international community for continued support.
Dr. Ahmadi was visiting Kabul to provide medical care for thousands of people who fled fighting in order to seek refuge. According to him, our workdays are very long and strenuous. I start at 7am and can work until midnight, which means that we can treat up 500 people per day as a team.
Sometimes I have to stay home due to security concerns. If there are reports that there has been gunfire, or other disturbances, as well as roadblocks reported, team members decide it is too dangerous to work. It can be very nerve-wracking on the streets.
*Real name withheld to protect identity
UNAMA/Eric KanalsteinIn Afghanistan many people don’t get enough food despite the favorable growing conditions.
I thought about my children
UN News interviewed many people who chose to work in countries with high security risk throughout the year. UN News spoke to many others about their decision to work in countries where there is high security risk. Fezeh Rezaye26-year-old mother of 2 and member of a 19 person, all-female, demining team were honored in April for their efforts in removing mines from Afghanistan.
She recalled that there were many people in my village who had been killed or injured by the mines in Bamyan. Our landlord even lost his leg in a mine accident. I was most affected by the deaths of seven children who were all from the same family in my village.
They were hiking together in the mountains, when a mine blast killed them all. I thought about my children, and that this could have been their fate.
Crown copyright 2021Trooper Jake Drake serves as a driver in the UK contingent for MINUSMA.
I must be on my A-game
For the soldiers (or blue helmets) who are part the UN peacekeeping mission to Mali, which has been for many years the most dangerous UN posting anywhere, every patrol could be their final.
Trooper Jack DrakeA young soldier from the UK is a driver for a military reconnaissance team that protects civilians in trouble areas in northeastern Mali. He explained that I have to concentrate on picking the best route for the vehicle, and knowing when it is time to let go to avoid getting stuck.
Mali is a dangerous country right now. It is crucial to recognize threats and remain alert all the time. To be safe, you must rely on your crew.
Steplyne Nyaboga (UNAMIDKenyan peacekeeper) conducts basic gender training for Pakistani troops in Darfur. (file)
Peacekeeping is a human enterprise
Major Steplyne, Kenyan Military Advisor for Gender, has worked tirelessly to promote the rights and dignity of women and girls since being deployed in Darfur in Sudan in 2019, organizing workshops and campaigns for staff and civil-society activists.
Major Nyaboga was awarded the UN Military Gender Advocate of the year Award 2020 by the UN in recognition of her outstanding work. She replied that peacekeeping is a human enterprise. Women and girls should be at the center of our efforts and concerns. This will help us better protect civilians, and create a more sustainable peace.
Major Nyaboga, who trained almost 95% of the military peacekeepers, was in charge of gender education. UNAMIDBy December last year, there was a military contingent. She also advised the force about how to better identify the vulnerabilities of men, women, and girls, as well as how to improve the protection provided by peacekeepers.
EnaleiaLefterisArapakis is co-founder of Enaleia.
Championing the Earth
After a pandemic-related postponement, COP26 in Glasgow, which was the most important UN conference on climate, was finally held in 2015. The climate crisis and the work done by grassroots activists received more attention.
From August through October, 10 young activists, engineers and entrepreneurs represented the UN. We are proud to present our hit podcast series No Denying It, which demonstrates how we can all make positive change.
Nzambi Matee is a Kenyan entrepreneur that makes low-cost, sustainable construction materials out of recycled plastic waste. Gjenge Makers, her company, has provided financial support to over 112 people through the supply and preprocessing stages.
Lefteris, a Greek activist who founded the first fishing school for his country, convinced fishermen to take plastic from the sea. In this episode, Mr. Arapakis explains how he started the school after hearing from his father, a fisherman. He said that there was a lack in labour for fishing boats, despite Greece’s economic crisis.
Thanks to the schools’ initiatives, fish stocks are recovering, the ecosystem is improving, and plastic waste is being returned to the circular economic. The community fishermen have an additional source for income.
Many of the activists featured at No Denying It were identified by the UN Environment Programme as Young Champions of the Earth.UNEP) which announced its latest Champions in December.
All women made up this years cohort, including Prime Minister Mia Mottley from Barbados. She was honoured for her strong voice from the global south, advocating for a sustainable planet and constantly raising concerns about the vulnerability of Small Island Developing States.
UN News/Daniela GrossJoenia Wapixana belongs to the indigenous Wapixana tribe, located in Brazil’s state of Roraima.
The fight for human rights
In 2021, human rights of every kind were under attack. However, many brave individuals fought back in order to protect them.
UN News shed light on the 30-year struggle by Joenia Wapixana in Brazil to secure land rights and protect the country’s indigenous population.
After a long campaign that was funded by crowdfunding, she became Brazil’s first indigenous woman to be elected to Brazil’s federal parliament. She was also awarded the UN Human Rights Prize.
Ms. Wapixana argued in a special interview that more resources should be allocated to fight institutionalized discrimination. She said that discrimination against the indigenous in Brazil has been there since its inception.
I believe that if a person is subject to racial discrimination or is suffering racism, it is important to protect them with all the legal means. You should report the incident, even if it doesn’t result in anything. It is important to keep track of this phase.
UN PhotoNew Sustainable Development Goals Advocate Edward Ndopu is the founder of Global Strategies on Inclusive Education Republic of South Africa.
Poverty is both the result and the cause of disability
Eddie Ndopu is a South African disability activist who has won numerous awards. He lives with spinal muscular atrophy and faces many daily challenges. He is now in his 20s and claims that his parents told him at birth that he would not survive beyond five years.
According to Mr. Ndopu, he has overcome his obstacles and is now able to travel the world advocating on behalf of others with disabilities. He says poverty is both the reason and the consequence for disability and that the vast majority of people with disabilities still live in poverty. This interview was taken from the UNs Awake At Night podcast.
I believe we don’t talk much about disability because we are so focused on perfection. I believe that disability reminds us all that imperfection is more intrinsic than perfection.
UN News features inspirational stories from exceptional people in our First Person strand. These stories can be found in our archive. Here.
Listen again to the UN Climate Action Podcast, No Denying It. This podcast features the voices of 10 young change-makers. Here.
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