“I was destined to work with refugees”

In News by MIIC

Robina at work in the UNHCR warehouse in Cox’s Bazar, Bangaldesh. © UNHCR

Name: Robina Kolok, 35, from South Sudan.

Job title: Associate Supply Officer, temporarily assigned to Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, from her duty station in Kenya.

Years at UNHCR: Seven, working in South Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Why did you become an aid worker?

I think I was destined to work with refugees. I was an urban refugee in Kenya, having left South Sudan when I was very young. I was a UNHCR beneficiary – UNHCR sponsored my primary education. I got to know about UNHCR at an early age.

In addition to that, my mother later joined the World Food Programme in South Sudan. When I went to visit her at work, she would be involved in programmes like food distribution. Seeing people receive the food aid, and how they appreciated what they were receiving, made me want to do what she was doing. I saw the sense of satisfaction she got from her job. It motivated me to follow in her footsteps.

What is the most rewarding/challenging thing about your job?

In just three months, more than 600,000 Rohingya refugees have fled violence in Myanmar to seek safety in Bangladesh. What is shocking to me about this emergency is how fast it has been growing. While it is growing very fast, the resources are not keeping up. We are giving a lot, yet it feels like a drop in the ocean.

Logistically, it means more work for us at our warehouse, because we are bagging up various aid items like jerry cans, plastic sheets, blankets, mosquito nets, cooking pots and solar lanterns. But when it comes to distribution, it is easier. In the camps, refugees have to walk long distances to pick up aid items. So having the items already in kit form makes it easier for them to carry.

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