Having the honor to represent your country is the greatest honor that you can possibly have. And it was even more awesome for it to be at the United Nations during the General Assembly. Over the past few years I have had the opportunity to be at the UN for Youth Assembly but this was my first time for General Assembly. Few years ago and as earliest as last year I used to just watch the event through news or online while in Canada. I can still remember when I received the voicemail message from Ottawa. After returning the call I learned that I had been chosen as part of the Canadian delegation with Prime Minister to the United Nations during the General Assembly and more specifically at the Leaders’ Summit on the Global Refugees Crisis which President Obama was hosting on the afternoon of September 20, 2016. I was also invited to attend an event on Women and Girls Perspectives on the Refugee and Migrant Summit hosted by the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations in partnership with Care International, Women’s Refugee Commission and Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
I took the bus from Washington D.C at 7am and by 11am I had arrived in New York City. The event at the Permanent Mission started at 1:15pm and it was very informative and touching too. It was a Panel of 4 women doing respective work with women and girls in Greece, Lebanon, UK and Turkey both in Refugee camps and communities. It was very humbling to learn about their work, the issues that women and girls face in such conditions and also how they do their parts to address such issues. As someone who was born in Democratic Republic of the Congo, I have read countless reports about the challenges that women and girls continue to face in the country and how they are the most vulnerable in Migrant and Refugee crisis. Women and girls often have to also worry about sexual assaults and abuses. Sometimes they are forced to exchange their bodies for food from the very people who are to protect them. Fleeing and worrying about war and conflict is hard enough and for these people to worry about being abused instead of getting the needed help is even more heartbreaking. As a former Refugee and now one who’s very passionate about Refugees and Humanitarian work, I really hope to do my part in supporting and addressing such issues which women and girls undergo. Let’s stand united, work together with governments and organizations to bring change to such inhuman acts. It was truly an honor to be part of such event and learn from the people who are already in the field doing their parts to change lives.
The event at the Mission concluded around 3:00pm and from there we walked straight to the UN which is not far. I was handed my badge and the event ticket which President Obama was hosting. Among other Leaders included; Prime Minister Trudeau, UN Secretary General, Ethiopia Prime Minister, Uganda President, Turkey Prime Minister, Greece Prime Minister and many more who took to the stage. The Speakers also included Yusra Mardini who was part of the first ever Team Refugee at the Olympics. It was a pleasure to hear her story of how she helped to rescue some Refugees by swimming when the boat engine stopped working having fled the war in Syria. She now call Germany home and as someone who also fled the war in DR Congo, I was truly inspired by her story of making the Team Refugee and for her courageousness. Yusra was the first person to speak and then President Obama took the stage. After that it was UN Secretary General, and then Ethiopia Prime Minister and then Canada’s own Prime Minister Trudeau. He shared a story about Syrian Refugee family who had resettled in Canada and how the family reached to the Canadians who had been affected when the fire broke out in Fort McMurrary causing thousands to lose their houses and run for their lives to nearby cities in Alberta or around the country. This was to highlight just how Refugees truly become part of societies and support others in times of need. It was great to hear from him about Canada’s plan to further receive more Refugees, expand the Humanitarian support and also work with NGOs and businesses to help resettle more. As someone who benefited coming as a Refugee, I was truly glad to hear of such ambitious plans to reach to those in need. I am very happy to have a Prime Minister who is the champion of Refugees, women and girls, and continuously offering Canada’s support to the developing countries. As he proudly said it, “We’re Canadian and we’re here to help.” Also, it was great to hear all leaders bringing the Syrian issue to light in hopes of finding solutions.
I returned to the UN on Saturday, September 24th and sat in to some speeches by country representations about what they are doing to not only address the Refugee crisis but also the ongoing conflict in Syrian and around the world. I also returned on Monday, September 26th for the closing session of the 71st UN General Assembly. Minister Councillor Michael Bonser from Permanent Mission of Canada to the UN was the one representing Canada on Monday. I had first met him when he received our Diaspora African Youth Association (DAYA) delegation in February after having attended the Youth Assembly at the UN. It was truly awesome to meet him again and after the closing session we had some few minutes to talk. This was a great opportunity and I was so glad to have come for the closing session.
I explained to Minister Councillor Bonser that I just graduated this year with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration – Management from NAIT in Alberta. I further told him that I was excited to be part of The Washington Center as a Student Exchange in International Affairs while completing an Internship in Migration and Refugee Services with Catholic Charities in Arlington, VA. I communicated my love and passion for Humanitarian and international work and that I was very excited and emotional when I was invited be to part of the Canadian Delegation at the UN for General Assembly. I asked him questions about leadership style, what he loves about his job, best strategies in this field, and also whether he has any advice for me because such work is what I hope to continue doing. When it comes to leadership style, some of the things that he highlighted most were; honesty and trust, commitment and transparent. “Good communication means good listening….be open to the conversation, no matter the disagreement.” Minister Councillor Bonser. With the question about something interesting in his job, he said that he loves what he does. He enjoys talking to people from all walks of life and representing Canada. He loves different cultures and always looking forward to his work. I finally asked him whether he has any advice for me as someone who wants to get into such field. “Keep following the passion…continue building network and reach to us (Canada UN Mission) whenever you’re in New York…build experience into the internship and understand different things on Refugees” Minister Councillor Bonser. He continued and said that I am doing already all the right things. I was truly grateful for his advice and he was more than happy to answer my questions. He encouraged me to continue staying in touch with Ambassador Grant and with him.
To God be the glory for his wonders and continuous blessings upon my life. It was the greatest honor and humbling experience to be part of Canada’s delegation to the UN for General Assembly and I will never forget in my life. Thank you to the Canadian Government, Permanent Mission of Canada to the UN, and all those who came together and made this happen. It was an honor to represent, learn more and network with other delegates. I believe this is the beginning of wonderful things and I look forward to one day joining Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations or any other level of the government which will allow me to give back to humanity to the best of my knowledge, skills and capacities. Life is great and I am very grateful of how far I have come.
THANK YOU LORD!