Tag Archives: UNICEF

It’s been a hard day’s work

27 Feb

I started work at UNICEF on Tuesday this week. I had Monday off because a lot of my colleagues were away on a work trip. It will be nice to ease into things with a four-day week, as I’m already finding concentrating all day in Spanish a little tiring.

Most of Tuesday was taken up with the general sort of admin one encounters when starting a new job: being introduced to everyone, shown the building facilities, briefed by security, given my ID card and access by HR, and provided a login for my computer.

I spent my spare moments reading UNICEF documents and publications and surfing the website to familiarise myself with their work. I also visited the onsite cafeteria for lunch (massive meal for A$3.10!) and took a quick happy snap of the view out of one of the windows.


I’m working in the Communication team which consists of my supervisor, Hector, three other team members and me. From what I’ve gathered so far, one works on video production (Eduardo), one on photography and virtual networks (Dany) and one on developing communication products and monitoring the media (Gaby). Everyone has been lovely and welcoming.

This morning I spent a fair amount of time reading through some more documents, including one that I found fascinating and highly informative. It was the ‘youth version’ of a national report on human development and the social exclusion of youth. I really liked the way they broke down the report into easily digestible segments and included comics, Q&As, simple charts, and drawings to demonstrate key message from the report.

Page from the youth version of the 'Informe Nacional sobre Desarollo Humano 2008/2009'

Page from the youth version of the ‘Informe Nacional sobre Desarollo Humano 2008/2009’

It was while I was enthralled with reading this document that I was given my first real task to do. Hector sent me a draft press release via email with a brief note asking me to revise and improve it. I don’t know why (I’m in Honduras after all) but for some stupid reason when I opened the document I was expecting it to be in English.

When I saw it was in Spanish and was about a draft bill currently being debated in the Honduran Congress I have to admit that a had a small moment of panic. I sat there staring at the screen thinking, “Oh my god, I can’t do this. My Spanish isn’t good enough to edit a draft press release. This is insane!”

My heart started pounding and I had visions of being booted out of Honduras because I wasn’t able to effectively help out my Community Project Organisation. I know, slightly melodramatic and over the top, but I couldn’t help it. I felt totally out of my depth.

I realised working myself up into a panicky mess wasn’t going to improve things and I needed to calm the heck down. It was about lunch time, so I figured I’d go to the cafeteria, get some lunch and some fresh air on the way, and attack the release when I got back to my desk.

I felt a bit better after lunch and, with coffee in hand, returned to start work. I decided the best way forward was to pretend the release was in Engliish and edit it like I would edit a press release back home. If my Spanish skills failed me I had a dictionary and Google to help out, so I’d just slog through it as best as I could.

I reread the release, teased out what I considered to be the key messages and rearranged the wording so these were at the top. Where possible, I simplified the language and shortened the length of sentences. I then converted some of the statements into quotes that could be attributed to a UNICEF spokesperson. Lastly I worked on cutting the release down to one page.

Once I was happy with how it looked, I triple checked it for spelling and grammar errors and then sent it through to Hector. I have never been so nervous about submitting a piece of work for review. I actually felt a bit sick in the stomach waiting for a response.

This is the response I received:

Hola Emma, lo entiendo muy bien y tu aporte es magnifico, nos ayudaras mucho. Gracias. Héctor.

English translation:

Hi Emma, ​​I understand very well and your input is great, you will help us a lot. Thank you. Hector.

I was so relieved I nearly cried! I think I’m going to have to print the email out and frame it when I get home. 🙂

So I guess I’ve passed the first test, and the pressure’s now on to keep doing acceptable work. In Spanish! My big lesson from today though is that I need to trust in my own abilities, keep breathing, and tackle each task step by methodical step.

Tomorrow I’m heading off on my first overnight work trip. We’ll be going to Valle de Angeles (a place I think I’m going to know very well by the end of my stay) to see the Red de Comunicadores Infantiles y Juveniles de Honduras (Child and Youth Communicators Network) in action.

I’m really looking forward to it as from everything I’ve read in the past two days it’s a brilliant project that truly gives Honduran kids a voice. Stay tuned.


Impatient Em is impatient

30 Dec

“…of all the hardships a person had to face none was more punishing than the simple act of waiting.”
~ Khaled Hosseini

For those wondering about what sort of work I’ll be doing in Honduras, where I’ll be living and what my host family will be like… Join the club! I’m president, treasurer and secretary.

I’m still waiting for these details to come through from AFS. In an ideal world I’d find out before I leave Australia on 13 February. The program in Honduras doesn’t start until 22 February though, so there’s actually a fair chance I may  already be on the road in Mexico when the details come through.

Which will make for a rather interesting arrival: Hello Honduras! I don’t know where I’m living or what I’m doing, but I’m happy to be here.

I did find out quite a while ago which organisation I’ve been assigned to volunteer with, but I wanted to wait until I had more details before blogging about it. Seeing as I may not have these details any time soon I figure now’s as good a time as any to announce that I’ll be working with UNICEF Honduras.

I couldn’t be more thrilled with my placement. Ever since I found out I have been stalking their Facebook page and website relentlessly to try and get an idea of how they operate and what I might be working on. UNICEF’s mission is to build a world where the rights of every child are realised, so I’ll be happy to help them out in any capacity I can.

The head office is in Tegucigalpa, the capital city, so I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that this is where I’m likely to be based too. If I’m completely honest living in the capital scares me a little as:
a) I’m a bit of a country bumpkin at heart so smaller cities are my preference, and
b) it’s got a pretty ‘interesting’ reputation in terms of crime.

However I’m determined to approach everything next year with a positive attitude and a ‘let’s make lemonade’ approach.

According to Wikipedia Tegucigalpa (Tegus for short) has a population of about 1.2 million people. This makes it larger than Canberra and Blumenau (where I lived in Brazil) but smaller than Sydney or Puebla (where I lived in Mexico). So on reflection, this could be a good size for me. Not too big, not to small. A Goldilocks city size.

The other great news is that because of Tegus’ high altitude it’s still considered as having a tropical climate but it’s less humid than the lower valleys and coastal regions of Honduras. Considering my aversion to hot weather this could work out very nicely for me indeed.

As soon as I hear anything more about the sort of work I’ll be doing with UNICEF, where I’ll be living and who my host family is, you’ll all be the first to know. For the time being though we’re all just going to have to be patient. *sigh*

45 sleeps to go!

A little bit of perspective can go a long way

2 Dec

“The best things in life aren’t things.”

~ Art Buchwald

When my ex and I broke up, one of the possessions I had to farewell was our Nespresso machine. It was his purchase originally, so I had no claim on it, but that didn’t mean it was any easier to bid adieu.

Oh how I loved our Nespresso machine! It was easy to use, required barely any cleaning, made perfect coffee every time, and was so cute and compact.

When discussing coffee machines at work the other week, I entered ‘sales mode’ and gave Nespresso a strong recommendation. Waxing lyrical about the benefits of these fabulous George Clooney caffeine dispensers, I lamented the fact that I no longer have one.

“If I wasn’t saving madly for my overseas trip, I’d buy one today. I miss it so much!”

“It’s definitely one of those purchases that once you have one, you just can’t live without it,” I enthused.

When I got home that evening, I logged onto Facebook and discovered that 19 November was World Toilet Day. The day aims to break the taboo around toilets and raise awareness that sanitation is a fundamental human right.

According to UNICEF one in three people around the world to not have access to a toilet and about 780 million people don’t have access to a safe, clean water source.

World Toilet Day

And I was upset that I didn’t have access to a fancy coffee machine any more. Talk about first world problems! It’s a bit embarrassing to think that I was carrying on about life without a Nespresso machine being ‘hard’, when there are so many people who are living without a toilet.

The World Toilet Day theme this year was “I give a sh*t, do you?” So in the spirit of giving a sh*t, I feel I should mention that you can go to the UNICEF website and make a donation that will help give children access to clean water.

They also have a wide range of charity gifts, if you’re looking for a feel-good gift to give to the person who already has it all this Christmas. I’ll definitely be putting some of these on my Christmas wish list, how about you?