Scholastica Madowo, UNICEF Global Staff Association Chairperson visited Haiti Country office from April 11 to April 13th. We took the opportunity to ask her a few questions at the end of her visit.
UNICEF HAITI: Schola, it is your first visit to Haiti. What do you think so far about your three- day visit to the country?
Schola: This is my first time in Haiti. Before this, the only experience I had was the images I had seen about destruction of the country …Then I came here and I can see that it is a country that is doing really well despite that destruction. I can see that the people of Haiti are very resilient.
UNICEF HAITI: Is there a particular moment that you remember from your meetings with UNICEF Haiti’s staff that you would like to talk about today?
Schola: These three days have been very busy. I have been meeting as many persons as my timing allows. If I have to choose a moment in particular, I am thinking about this morning. We were on a meeting and the programme assistant was breastfeeding her baby in the conference room. And the meeting was going on without any problem. It is wonderful to see that at UNICEF. How nice it is for that child to grow up in this environment! And who knows, he might be the next Tony Lake!
’’When there are many hands, the load is not heavy’’
UNICEF HAITI: A Haitian proverb that we like here at the office highlights the importance of working hand in hand with our partners, with the government and with the entire UNICEF Office. It says ’’Men anpil, chaj pa lou” which could be translated as ’’When there are many hands, the load is not heavy’’. Schola, you have 21 years of working experience with UNICEF in the Kenya Country Office as well as in the Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office. How do you relate to this proverb?
Schola: We have the same proverb in my country. At UNICEF too, it is true. Each country office has got targets and results for the country. All these results for countries are put together for regional results. Even, if we do not see it, each action, even the one that seems the smallest has its place in the results chain. Each action made here in Les Cayes or in Jérémie contributes to the country results, to the regional results and finally becomes a part of UNICEF’s global results. We might not see it but we have to remember that UNICEF’s big results come from all these people around the world that are working together.
’’A child is a treasure’’
UNICEF HAITI : Another Haitian proverb that we particularly like to quote is ’’timoun se richès’’ which could be translated as ’’A child is a treasure’’. As UNICEF GSA chairperson, would you like to comment on it?
Again, this is a true proverb. Children are our legacy. Anything you treasure and you take good care of will become gold. Children are the world’s most important resource. We must take good care of all the children in the world as they its best hope for the future.
We were children once. We are here today because someone took good care of us, they made sure we had enough food, they made sure we went to school, they assured our wellbeing. Now we are able to change the world and make a better society. We are able to take care of children and treasure them, ensure them good conditions to thrive. If we want a better Haiti, then we have to take better care of its children.
The seat at the Global Staff Association has broadened my perspective and I see all the staff as my children. My mission is to listen to all of them and to take care of all of them.
’’Behind mountains lie mountains’’
UNICEF HAITI : Last question and last occasion to offer you another of our nice Haitian proverbs, ’’dèyè mòn gen mòn’’ or ’’behind mountains lie mountains’’, which refers to the succession of challenges in life. As soon as one is solved, another one appears; there is always a new challenge. Does this inspire you in your everyday job as GSA Chairperson, and if so, can you tell us how?
Actually, yes! For me, if there are no challenges, there are no added values. Challenges do not end and they will not end. In my job, I am glad of that because if they stop, I have no job.
In UNICEF, from my experience, because we have targets and we plan lots of activities, the challenges never stop. No sooner a goal is achieved, than another has to be achieved. The world is moving, changing and evolving; so does our life and work.
Once at our desks, we must be able to find satisfaction in what we have to do now and not live in the past. Once something is achieved, let’s move to the other things. At the GSA, every day, I do my best. When I am catching up with all my emails, I am satisfied but I know the inbox will be full of emails again the day after and I enjoy that.
I was delighted to hear about “Poze’’ – the initiative that the Haiti country office has piloted to help staff deal with stress in their lives by building their individual mindfulness, motivation and wellbeing. Mindfulness is not only a great way to appreciate the present moment but it is also about doing it purposefully. It is good to take a moment to recognize for yourself that you did a good job (even if nobody is telling you). It is good to acknowledge to yourself that you are doing a great job. It is good to take time to be grateful to yourself and to appreciate your work and your results. That moment of appreciation can help you appreciate even more the next challenge, the next ’’mountain’’ that is ahead of you.
Interview conducted by Julie Harlet,
Communication Officer UNICEF Haiti
This post is also available in: French