What does it take to be a United Nations worker in some of the world’s most difficult and dangerous locations? How are health workers, humanitarians and peacekeepers racing to protect the most vulnerable populations from the threat of the COVID-19 virus? Stationed in remote locations and far from family, how are they coping themselves? To find out, Melissa Fleming, UN Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, meets them.
Here you will discover extraordinary personal stories from people who devote their lives to helping others.
Prisoner of Hope - Michelle Bachelet
Michelle Bachelet, now the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, was the first female President of Chile for the Socialist Party. Her father served in the Air Force. In 1973 he died in jail at just 50, after being taken prisoner during a coup that overthrew the government. Michelle speaks of how she and her mother were taken to a clandestine detention centre; of exile in Australia and East Germany; of her motivations to study medicine and return to Chile and why she remains a prisoner of hope.
United, we prevail. Divided, we fail - Rabbi Arthur Schneier
Rabbi Arthur Schneier is a Holocaust survivor and a human rights activist. He shares harrowing memories of his childhood in Vienna and later in Hungary after the Nazis came to power. Many of his family members were murdered, including his grandfather, a prominent rabbi who died in Auschwitz. Determined to become a rabbi in his honor, and to make a new life in the United States, Rabbi Schneier has dedicated a lifetime to promoting peace, reconciliation, and inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue.
Are we doing enough for the children? - Yasmin Ali Haque
Yasmin Ali Haque has worked for UNICEF for almost 25 years and is now the Country Representative in India. She explains how the current coronavirus situation there is driving some of the world’s poorest families back to negative coping mechanisms including a returning rise in child marriage. Involved in emergency response throughout her career, Yasmin was also working in Sri Lanka when the devastating tsunami hit in 2004 and shares some of the heartbreaking stories from the wreckage.
It Breaks Your Heart to Hear About the Brutality - Pramila Patten
Pramila Patten is the Secretary General's Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict whose work aims to end rape as a weapon of war, making it a crime that is both preventable and punishable. Pramila travels the world to meet survivors, carrying back the harrowing stories they entrust her to retell. She then advocates tirelessly on their behalf for accountability and justice.
Clearing Mines for 30 Years - Paul Heslop
Paul Heslop is the Head of the UN Mine Action Team in Afghanistan and has been clearing mines in conflict zones for nearly 30 years. He shares the remarkable progress deminers have made in removing explosive devices across the globe with Mozambique (his first post back in ‘94) declaring itself mine-free two years ago. Paul also recounts his time as a field officer for the Halo Trust when Princess Diana came to visit a minefield in Angola where he was working back in 1997.
Good People Have Always a Smile on Their Face - Aboubacar Kampo
Aboubacar Kampo is UNICEF’s Director of Health Programmes but he has also worked as a physician and surgeon in some of the world’s most complex emergency zones, from Afghanistan to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Abou shares his experiences from the ER wards of Chad and recounts the harrowing story of Irene, a victim of rape and violence in Liberia. Abou’s life-changing work is proof that, even in areas facing gross atrocities, we can see the good side of human nature.
Inspiring and Enlightening
Melissa I just came across to this podcast few months ago, and I can’t tell enough how inspiring it is!
Learning about how it really is like to be a UN worker, serving in field missions as peacekeepers, aid workers, medical practitioners and ... has greatly and of course in a positive way changed my opinion about the UN which is frequently blamed for not being helpful enough!
Listening to the stories of these UN workers, who literally many times put their own lives, comfort, families and health at the greatest risks, I now know the UN is doing as much as possible to make it easier for many people in poverty, war-torn countries, disease-stricken areas and ... live a better life, though there’s still much to do!
and just to put an end to this long comment 😁, I just want to mention one of my favorite episodes, the interview with Agnes Kalibata.
This quote by Agnes from that episode has since stuck with me: “We don't have a plan B. We only have one plan. Our planet can take care of itself. It will eject us and move on. But is that where we want to be?”
While governments & big corporations are talking about building cities on other planets in the future and stuff, she simply drags our attention to the present reality!
Thanks for sharing these inspiring stories with us!
I listen to this before I sleep...
And I lie awake as well, in awe and inspired by the stories shared on this podcast. Thank you for bringing this unique podcast to the airwaves, it’s really important and humbling to hear the work of the people of the UN.
Not the whole truth
There is a block known as Block 13 in Kakuma Kenya where they aren't being taken care of and they aren't safe. Block 13 is full of LGBTQ+ refugees that came to that camp for safety from their country of Uganda. But how can they be safe in a refugee camp where all the other refugees and workers are homophobes who don't care about the lives of the LGBTQ+ Ugandan refugees. With the terrible things they do to these innocent souls I am surprised they are able to sleep well at night. The people who work for UNHCR needs better workers who listen to the NEEDS of everyone instead of the workers' homophobic ways.