Nationality

Philippines

Education

Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City

Languages

Cebuano, English, Filipino

At the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) we are helping to rehabilitate a nation that has suffered through years of sanctions and conflict. There are 16 United Nations organizations, programmes, agencies and funds working in Iraq, from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of women, UN Women. We work together on health, peace and human rights. My role, as an Electoral Affairs Officer, has been to help implement transparent democratic elections at both the local and national levels.

I work towards ensuring people can cast their votes. My first job with the United Nations was in Timor-Leste in 2000. The United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) had been created to help Timor-Leste develop a stable democracy after it achieved independence from Indonesia. I joined UNTAET as United Nations Volunteer, and like other colleagues went to live in a mountain village with a host family for three months. I worked on public sensitization, voter registration and ballot counting. I hiked over two mountain peaks to ensure ballots were available on election day and later delivered to the national capital. It was tiring and tough but when the voting was over and my hosts arranged a celebration to thank all of the United Nations staff who had worked there to help make polling possible it was all worth it. We were each given a traditional sash called a Tais Timor as a sign of respect and gratitude. It was rewarding to have won the respect of the people I came to serve. I’ll always remember the sense of accomplishment I felt being a part of the 2000 elections in Timor-Leste.

That was my first mission with the United Nations, and I’ve been working in electoral affairs for 11 years now. I was a Provincial Electoral Officer for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in 2003, and a Regional Election Adviser for the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN). Here, I had the privilege of participating in a historic election that saw Nepal transition from a monarchy to a parliamentary republic. That’s why working in elections is so exciting, because I am witnessing people write their own history.

I understand just how much a vote means to every stakeholder. When I was young my father was a politician, and I helped him campaign, so it’s easy for me to relate to the candidates running for office. By giving people a sense that they can participate in the democratic process, elections bring a feeling of belonging to divided communities, so the work of the elections office is particularly important after war. Just like on my first mission in Timor-Leste, the elections I am now a part of in Iraq have helped to bring security to the country, and I know that when I leave this duty station, my greatest achievement will be leaving behind the belief that peace is possible.

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