International Day of UN Volunteers: Ruby Awude, Ghana
LAKES – Ruby Awude, a 43-year-old from Ghana, has had a distinguished career as a Blue Helmet across Darfur, Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, and Democratic Republic of Congo, before she gave up her military credentials to become a UN Volunteer with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). In this short conversation, this multifaceted peacekeeper speaks about how her diverse experience in UN Peacekeeping have contributed towards a meaningful career.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I grew up with six sisters and our father, who was a teacher, was our role model and biggest influencer. My love for the army began when he started teaching at a military school. Even though I was very young, I would dream of wearing a uniform someday and making a difference. I wanted to apply to my country’s army immediately after completing high school but my father insisted I go to university. I studied French and English, completed my higher education, and then joined the Ghanaian army. I have an 11-year-old son who understands that his mother works in a context where she must spend time away from him. Recently, he told me he wants to be a naval officer and that makes me proud.
What is your job like and what is the impact you have on the ground every day?
As a Civil Affairs Officer I am in the deep field all the time working with communities on key issues such as conflict management and promoting reconciliation. I also build networks among local stakeholders and UNMISS. My work is all about building trust and inclusivity from the grassroots all the way up to the national level. The only way to do this is by encouraging productive dialogues and social cohesion. I work closely with all mission components and UNMISS Field Offices in neighbouring states to run peace dialogues that I believe are critical to shaping an enduring peace. My background also gives me insight into garnering support for and from women, youth, and students. I work with schools across Rumbek to positively influence young minds on the need to end conflict and move towards peace, progress and prosperity.
What do you like most about being a UN Volunteer?
When I was a uniformed peacekeeper I quickly realized that my best asset was the ability to connect with people. I love being in the field, engage directly with communities and share their concerns. I think that’s what I love the most about being a UN Volunteer with UNMISS – it gives me the opportunity to convene with people we are here to help every day.
Do you have a message for other young people who want to follow your career graph?
Volunteering matters. It’s all about giving back to the communities we are on the ground to serve. People go through a lot in life, so you never know what impact you can have on one’s life with just a smile.
Any message for the people of South Sudan?
Every time I engage with youth, I ask them what their vision for South Sudan is. Young people have a lot of expectations and dreams. So, I keep saying to them is that it is possible. The fact that South Sudan has been in civil war doesn’t mean it cannot become a peaceful country. There is always hope. Once all citizens set their differences aside, they will be able to achieve. I always use Rwanda as an example because my country has been through a serious conflict, but today we are doing well. Therefore, it can be replicated to South Sudan. It all starts with people.