Saturday, 23 January 2021

UN in your language

The life of a volunteer: Thomas

Thomas DebrouwerTell us a little bit about yourself
My name is Thomas Debrouwer, 27. I am a volunteer with the United Nations World Food Program in Quito, Ecuador.

Where do you do your volunteer work?
Mainly here in Quito

What were your reasons for doing volunteer work?
Private reasons mainly, but I was considering the option for a long time since I am interested in development issues.

What kind of work did you do? What is a "normal" day for you?
I monitoring programs and do a lot of computer work to manage data, calculate indicators, create surveys. Also field visits to meet beneficiaries and program implementers.

Have you volunteered somewhere else before? Where? What did you do?
In Honduras, as a journalist, in Ecuador with another foundation (helping children do their homework), and in Egypt (children's camp).

What makes you interested in volunteering?
The theoretical absence of self-interest

Would you recommend volunteer work and why?
I would because it provides a great sense of satisfaction.

How can you become a volunteer worker?
By searching on the internet volunteering opportunities and contacts.

What advice would you like to give to those who are planning to do volunteer work?
Be patient because competition for volunteering job is much harder than people think, I heard of cases of people paying to be volunteers and this is pretty shocking.

What has volunteering taught you?
This depends a lot on the job itself. Personally I acquired many skills but not so many related to the volunteering itself.

Would you do it again?
Definitely, yes.

Why should you not do volunteer work?
Because most organizations spent too much time begging for money and donors lack the same sense of caring for others that characterizes volunteers.

Do you need to have good language skills?
Yes, but this is not the most important thing since your physical appearance already make you look like a stranger. Beneficiaries would understand your difficulties and would try to help you. Human contact has nothing to do with language skills.

Interview with Angelique Kidjo about UNV and why it matters


  • Every year about 7,500 people register as volunteers through the UNV.

  • People from over 160 countries serve as volunteers in over 130 different countries.

  • 80 percent come from developing countries, 20 percent from industrialized nations.

  • 40 percent work in Africa, 26 percent work in Asia and 15 per cent in Central and Eastern Europe; the remainder are to be found in the Arab States, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.

  • 30 percent serve in the world's poorest nations. Half work outside capital cities, frequently in remote towns and villages.

Requirements for a UN Volunteer:

  • You need to be aged 25 or more to be an on-field volunteer. Younger people can become online volunteers.

  • You need to hold a university degree.

  • You need two years of work experience.