International Day of UN Volunteers: Arslan Nasserullah, Pakistan
WARRAP – Meet Arslan Nasserullah, engineer, project manager and a United Nations Volunteer from Pakistan who is serving with the UN, and for peace, for the first time. In this interview, he tells us about himself and his remarkably varied assignments in Kuajok, for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
Tell us bit about your family background.
I come from a conservative village in central Punjab in Pakistan. In 2005, we had to move from the village to Lahore, a big city with better educational opportunities. This was financially very challenging for my parents, because quality education for six children was expensive and difficult to afford. Still, they decided to invest in our education and hold back on other luxuries of life instead, even if it also meant taking some loans from relatives. So, I have grown up with huge expectations to wipe away all the family loans and to improve their lifestyle after my graduation as an engineer. My parents moved from the village with very limited resources but with a big dream, and their tough decision at the right time completely changed our lives.
Please give a short description of your job and the impact you have on the ground every day.
I am working as a project manager in Kuajok, South Sudan. We have two kinds of ongoing projects: some are inside the UNMISS camp, to improve the quality of life of our staff; others are called Quick Impact Projects and implemented in local communities. The purpose of the latter projects is to provide better conditions for education, health and law and order, for example by providing the infrastructure needed. Our projects consist of renovating or constructing from scratch, anything from schools and police stations to hospitals and bore holes.
What do you like most about being a UN Volunteer?
Volunteering for the UN has given me the opportunity to interact with professionals from different countries, religions and ethnic backgrounds, which means that working here is a great chance to learn for life.
What’s one thing you have learnt since starting your mission?
I have learnt many things, but the best is respect for diversity. The culture in this mission is very diverse in terms of the religions and geographical origin of colleagues.
Do you have a message for other young people who want to follow your career path?
Volunteering in UN is a great chance to learn useful skills and things, because you work with some of the best professionals from across the world. Along with technical knowledge we get to learn about many other aspects of life, which is always useful, on both a personal and a professional level.
Any message for the people of South Sudan?
People of South Sudan are facing a lot of problems because of a lack of basic necessities like food, health and education. Right now, the biggest challenge is to come through this recently started dry season.
My message to the people of South Sudan is to stay peaceful despite the many challenges faced by both humans and their cattle, whose lives people depend on. By helping each other, people can make this tough time less difficult.