Walters TT Samah Evolving role of a UNV rebuilding Haiti

Mr. Samah speaking with local residents at a roadside market in Leogane, West Region. UN Photo United Nations Volunteer (UNV) Walters Samah, with the local community in Leogane, West Region, Haiti. UN Photo UNV Samah with a bicameral delegation of senior parliamentary staff during an exchange visit in the Dominican Congress. UN Photo United Nations Volunteer (UNV) Walters Samah, with the local community in Leogane, West Region, Haiti. UN Photo “It’s amazing to see how far the city has come,” Mr. Samah said. “Life is returning to relative normalcy for most. Today what one sees is not a city of rubble it was in 2010 but a city in reconstruction. Roads are being repaired, new residential houses are under constructions and businesses are cropping up again.” “These projects are providing jobs for many young people who are beginning to feel positive about the future of their municipality compared to three years ago,” he added. As a Civil Affairs Officer, UNV Samah was part of the Mission’s Parliamentary Support and Liaison Unit interfacing with the Haitian Parliament, civil society and local authorities to strengthen state institutions. Following the quake, Mr. Samah had to adapt to the changing needs of the Mission. His state-building role expanded to include working with aid organizations, assisting local risk and disaster management committees in preparing contingency plans and monitoring population movements. “I was often also called to support other sections within MINUSTAH,” Mr. Samah said, in jobs that ranged from assisting the Chief of Staff to working with the Human Rights Section in security assessment surveys in internally displaced camps in Port-au-Prince. United Nations Volunteer (UNV) Walters Samah, with the local community in Leogane, West Region, Haiti. UN Photo ‹ ›Beyond MINUSTAH, UNV Samah has also taken volunteerism to the community level, working actively with child-centered institutions to empower orphans and street children. “My work has given me the feeling of self-satisfaction derived largely from the fact that I am making a worthy and meaningful contribution,” said Mr. Samah, a Cameroon national who has been working in Haiti since 2008. Mr. Samah is one of around 6,800 UN Volunteers in UN peacekeeping missions and UN Agencies around the world. UN Volunteers comprise one-third of all international civilians working in UN peacekeeping operations, according to their office. The relationship between UN peacekeeping and UNVs is highly regarded. In a 2001 interview with Mr. Sergio Vieira de Mello, then Head of the UN effort in Timor-Leste, he said the following when asked about the role UN Volunteers play in peacekeeping efforts: “The first association is precisely this proximity with the field. UN Volunteers lack fortunately the characteristics of career bureaucrats of which I’m an example in the sense that they are truly focused and committed to assist developing countries not from the headquarters perspective, not from the career advancement point of view, but as volunteers. This by definition commits them to actually translate the ideals of the United Nations, and of this mission in particular which are very ambitious, into reality on the ground.” UNVs continue to have a strong presence in the UN family today, encouraging experienced adults and younger individuals to work in the field and support the UN’s priorities. The Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Youth, Ahmad Alhendawi, has a personal connection with peacekeeping. “My brother served in Haiti with the peacekeepers. He was there during the earthquake, so I know the challenges they face. But I also know how committed they are to bring about peace,” he said. “The peacekeepers are the first bridge, in many cases, from a bloody present to a peaceful future. They reinforce peace, and embody the ideals of the United Nations. read more

Top 50 over 50 list includes Brock alumnus Ted Mouradian

For Ted Mouradian (BA ’99), just being nominated for the Ageworks Top 50 over 50 list was an unexpected honour.“I just go about life doing my own thing,” he says. “It really is an honour to be nominated and then to find out that I made the list.”While he studied full time at Brock University as a mature student in his 40s, Mouradian developed the principles of the Law of Co-operative Action, which still guides his teachings and business practices today. These principles led him to grow from being a motivational speaker to working with the United Nations and dealing with worldwide conflicts.His business teaches the average person how to improve their life by changing how they relate to people and the world around them.With a laugh he says, “I teach people how to play nice in the sandbox.”Mouradian turns 70 on Valentine’s Day and says, “I want people to know that as seniors we don’t stop, I will never retire.”Also receiving the Top 50 over 50 award from the Niagara Region is Doug Rapelje, 84 of Welland, who received an honorary doctor of Law degree from Brock University in 2013 and is still an active member of the University community.Rapelje is part of Brock’s Seniors Advisory Council, a group of older adults who meet twice a year to help provide community insight to the researchers and staff at the University’s Centre for Lifespan Development Research.“Doug has been an invaluable resource around seniors’ issues and bridging the gap between research and practice for Brock faculty and older adults in our community,” said Lifespan Knowledge Mobilization Officer, Jayne Morrish. read more