UN staff gets hands dirty on UN Day

UN Resident Coordinator, Israel Desslagne, plants a tree at Zombedze Primary School during UN DayUN Resident Coordinator, Israel Desslagne, plants a tree at Zombedze Primary School during UN Day

The United Nations staff yesterday ditched the office and got their hands dirty as they planted maize and fruit trees in different areas around the country.

This was part of the UN Day commemoration. The United Nations General Assembly declared 24 October, the anniversary of the Charter of the United Nations, as which “shall be devoted to making known to the people of the world, the aims and achievements of the United Nations as well as gaining their support for its work”.

United Nations Day is part of United Nations Week, which runs from 20 – 26 October. United Nations Day has traditionally been marked throughout the world with meetings, discussions and exhibits about the achievements and goals of the organization.

The local UN office last year decided to take a different approach and celebrate this day by adding value to needy communities. The employees formed four teams which visited different areas including Embikwakhe Primary School, Enguleni National Care Point (NCP) at Ekupheleni, Mbuluzi NCP and St John Bosco Youth Centre. The teams donated clothes, books, soccer kits and also planted trees. UN Resident Representative Israel Dessalegne formed part of the team that visited Embikwakhe. Dessalegne said instead of commemorating this day with a party in a hotel, they thought it would be best to take the UN to the people, saying this approach was best in the Swazi context. He said going to the people would help the UN come up with innovative ideas to meet their needs. The Representative and UNDP Deputy Resident Representative Nasidi Kabiru were joined by the other UN staff and pupils in preparing the soil for planting maize and fruit trees at the school’s garden.

The representative explained that visiting the communities was all about advocacy and creating awareness. He said working with the pupils was a form of skills transfer and teaching them about the importance of self-reliance. He noted that pupils were the future of the country and would shape the UN in the future. “We want the children to note the importance of self-reliance because it is an important factor if we are to take the country to another level,” he said.

Story by Winile Mavuso from The Swazi Observer