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UNV Publications

Back to Africa
15 October 2009
by Luu Thi Ngoc Anh

Hoang Thanh Thuy in front of the UNV Country Office in Ha Noi (Photo: UNV Viet Nam)
Packing all necessary documents into her small suitcase, Hoang Thanh Thuy says goodbye to all the staff at the UNV country office in Ha Noi at the end of a short briefing. All arrangements for her departure just a few days later seem to be in order. Thuy is heading back to Africa.

Thuy formerly worked as a Road Construction Engineer with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) in the south of Sudan. This time, she is going back to Africa in a new role: international UNV volunteer in Chad, the neighboring country to Sudan. Her new job title is Construction Supervisor.

Thuy shares: “I lived and worked in Sudan for 18 months. Africa is not actually as tough a working environment as people often think. The local people I worked with were very friendly and honest. Moreover, my organization enabled a safe working environment for us so that we rarely had to worry about security.”

Earlier this year, Thuy had registered herself in the UNV global roster system. This is a registration system for those who would like to become international UNV volunteers and serve in a country other than their own. When there is a post available, the system will screen and select the most suitable candidates with matching backgrounds and professional experiences. Short-listed candidates, once notified, will then have to follow a very competitive recruitment process.

Later, in July 2009, Thuy was surprised to be called for an interview for a UNV volunteer position in Chad. With a solid background in transportation and experience in a variety of positions in this sector, plus a deep passion for Africa, Thuy got the better of the other candidates for this international UNV volunteer Construction Supervisor post.

Born and raised in Ha Noi, Thuy is not unlike many young people, who like traveling and challenging themselves. Yet while most people prefer the comfort of a stable job after graduating, increasing numbers of Vietnamese young professionals are making the decision to get involved as volunteers in a wide range of development issues at different levels. Becoming a UNV volunteer, like Thuy, is one of those options. Before heading to Chad, Thuy was offered a reasonably well-paid position with a construction company in Ha Noi. Thuy, unfazed, says “I am excited to be an international UNV volunteer and this assignment gives me a good chance to work on something that is suited to my knowledge and ability.”

“I like Africa. While working in the field, however, the heat is a real obstacle. Fortunately, I have a good level of health and have never been sick during my time there. Also, the places where I’ve been working really are in need of the support from technical people like me and my colleagues. So we can help make a real difference by using our expertise and experience.”

The project Thuy will be working on is a major one, and she hopes to be able to see out her contract and give as much support as possible. “It is an amazing and happy feeling every time to see a road is completed and more than that is to observe and believe that it will enhance the local transportation which then will help communities improve their life through economic development.”

And with that, she does up her suitcase and is out the door and away to the next challenge.
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