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UNICEF/UN Volunteers: Volunteering for behavioural change in Egypt
25 October 2011

Dalia Ashour with UNICEF Egypt  Emergency response team in Salloum. Photo: UNICEF/2011Dalia Ashour with UNICEF Egypt Emergency response team in Salloum. Photo: UNICEF/2011
Egypt: When thinking of a volunteer, what comes to the mind of most people is a youth working in the field in an emergency zone. The link between the words ‘volunteer’ and ‘desk job’ is, to say the least, not very common.

Well, I am one of those. I have been a national United Nations Volunteer (UNV), on a desk, with office hours, in UNICEF Egypt’s Communication for Development (C4D) section for a little over two years now.

Over those past two years I have been involved in a number of different projects ranging from behavioral change responses to the Avian Influenza and the H1N1 influenza pandemic in 2010 to the emergency response in Salloum in the wake of the Libyan revolution (March 2011) assisting UNICEF Egypt’s team in providing relief efforts and psychosocial support to displaced children and families on the Egyptian-Libyan borders. Apart from emergency responses, I have been involved in a few more long-term projects promoting healthy lifestyles, hygienic practices and cooperation among Kindergarten children as well as primary school children and their families as well as building the capacities of government and civil society counterparts in the field of C4D.   

I have to admit that emergency response does have its thrill and that it probably is some of the most immediately gratifying work anyone could ever do. However, assisting a team of wonderfully talented and fully dedicated ladies to bring about positive change in the behavior of many Egyptian children and families (in matters of hygiene, no-violence, nutrition and more) is where I have found the most joy in my experience. Day in, day out my task is to offer support to the work of C4D in preparing for trainings, drafting concept papers and funding proposals, reviewing and editing IEC materials, following up with partners and consultants, conducting research and field visits to help monitor the progress of C4D initiatives as well as the documentation of projects.

During the course of working with UNCIEF Egypt I have learned a lot, visited parts of Egypt I had never been to before, gained a wealth of experience and hopefully helped my C4D colleagues with their contagious spirit, dedication and professionalism in their endeavor to touch the lives of Egyptian children and families.