Nationality

Brazil

Education

Master’s Degree in Conflict Resolution, University of Bradford, Yorkshire, United Kingdom

Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies, University of Sunderland, Tyne and Wear,  United Kingdom

Post-Graduate Certificate in Photography, National Service For Commercial Education (SENAC), Sao Paulo, Brazil

Languages

Portuguese, English, French

Working in a peacekeeping mission is life-changing. Since 2005, I have served in the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), established by the Security Council in September 2003 to restore peace after over a decade of civil war. I have met people from diverse walks of life, visited new places, grown professionally and personally – and I have made a difference.

I joined the United Nations in 2004 as an intern for the Department of Public Information in New York; a good fit as I was able to draw upon my studies in journalism and conflict resolution, as well as my experience as a press officer in the corporate sector. My job was to write and edit stories for the UN Chronicle, a quarterly magazine featuring issues of global concern, among them climate change and human rights.

After my internship, I was eager to work in the field, so I applied to the United Nations Volunteer (UNV) programme, which places thousands of volunteers in peacekeeping and humanitarian projects in 140 countries. Volunteerism has been a big part of my life. As a university student, I spent a summer in Bosnia and Herzegovina helping children recover from the traumas of war by teaching them art, music, and sports. Later, while working in Brazil for a consumer electronics company, I taught computer skills to its janitors and security guards as part of the firm’s social responsibility project. I also taught creative writing to teenagers.

My teaching background came in handy at UNMIL’s Integrated Mission Training Centre (IMTC), which integrates civilian, military and police training, and provides instruction in technical, administrative, managerial, as well as career development skills. I began in January 2005 as a UNV Training Officer, and realized how vital a training centre is to the success of any mission. My team identifies performance gaps in the skills of personnel, and then provides the necessary training so that UNMIL’s staff is better prepared to support the Mission’s objectives.

When I arrived, the Centre did not really exist. There were just four of us with a pre-fabricated container as an office, so we spent several months lobbying for classrooms and equipment, and recruiting local staff. At the same time, we still had to coordinate “Induction Briefing” for new arrivals, especially those who were there to support the 2005 elections. That orientation included classes on the history of Liberia, gender issues, and stress management. By end of the year, we had 10 employees, and began delivering our training programmes.

Creativity is paramount in a mission. For instance, what do you do when there is no power for the projector? You learn not to rely too much on slides, and instead prepare a session incorporating activities and games – the class is more exciting that way.

UNMIL’s training strategy evolved over time. From 2006, we focused on skills related to the core values and competencies of the United Nations, such as computer literacy, creative problem solving and project management. We also began traveling to rural parts of Liberia to train field office staff.

My responsibilities have evolved as well. In 2007, I became a professional staff member and was promoted to Training Coordinator; in 2008, I began serving as Acting Chief, and in January 2010, I was confirmed as Chief of Training. I still teach some classes, but as a manager, I concentrate more on quality control, managing the budget, and developing courses in line with the Mission’s strategy.

I have 16 wonderful people on my team, nine of whom are Liberian. We are the largest Integrated Mission Training Centre apart from the one at the African Union/United Nations Hybrid operation in Darfur, Sudan, which has a staff of 32. Our Centre is considered a model of best practice in peacekeeping training - so much so that my trainers often visit other missions to provide support.

As the situation in Liberia has stabilized,
UNMIL is preparing for eventual withdrawal by building the capacity of Liberians to manage their country. This is where my team can have the most impact; we are working closely with locally-hired Liberians employed by UNMIL – called National Staff – to increase their administrative and leadership skills so they can further contribute to Liberia’s progress. Helping Liberians is the most satisfying part of my job – after all, it is why we are here.

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