Shadi Mohammedali, 28, works for the International Rescue Committee raising awareness among his fellow asylum seekers about how to protect themselves from COVID-19. Credit: IRC
By Hannah Gavin, UN Volunteer
On International Youth Day, we celebrate the contributions of all youth to societies and their efforts to help others in their darkest hour of need. With the COVID-19 crisis, many youth have stepped up to take care of their communities during these difficult times. Shadi Mohammedali, a refugee from Gaza, is one of those youth we celebrate today.
Shadi, 28, fled Gaza in 2018, crossing the Mediterranean Sea in a dinghy. He lived in a refugee camp in Greece for more than a year and now works for the International Rescue Committee raising awareness among his fellow asylum seekers about how to protect themselves from COVID-19.
At the Moria refugee camp in Greece, Shadi is teaching fellow refugees how to properly wash their hands, wear face masks and social distance to combat the spread of COVID-19. In refugee camps, where people are living in close proximity, these precautionary measures are vital.
As a refugee himself, Shadi can relate to the challenges facing others in the camp. Every step along his journey, Shadi faced obstacles like leaving his job as a civil engineer, separating from his family back home and learning French and Greek. His resilience has helped him make an impact on the refugees he serves. Shadi says:
“I like to be a problem solver. I am an engineer, so I enjoy thinking of solutions, ideas. But what I enjoy the most is the effect of my job. I appreciate that I work in the humanitarian sector. You can see the direct impact of your work – in the eyes of the refugees when they are happy. A simple word can mean a lot for a refugee. That has kept me motivated.”
Shadi’s story is a reminder to people everywhere of the power one person has to make a difference. That is why on International Youth Day, we celebrate Shadi’s work and the work of young people everywhere helping to make the world a better place.
Endorsed by the UN General Assembly in 1999, International Youth Day is an opportunity to celebrate the voices, actions and initiatives of young people, as well as their meaningful, universal and equitable engagement.
This year’s theme, “Youth Engagement for Global Action”, seeks to highlight the ways in which young peoples’ engagement is enriching national and multilateral institutions and processes, as well as draw lessons on how their representation and engagement in formal institutional politics can be significantly enhanced.
Dr. Debryna Dewi Lumanauw, 28, is currently supporting the COVID-19 response in Indonesia. Credit: OCHA
Another young person who we celebrate today is Dr. Debryna Dewi Lumanauw, a 28-year-old medical worker who is often the only woman in her search-and-rescue team in Indonesia.
When disaster strikes in Indonesia, from an earthquake to a flood or a volcanic eruption, she can often be found at the centre of it. “Yes, women might have physical barriers in doing search and rescue, but that just means we ought to figure out a way to work twice as smarter than men,” she says.
Dr. Lumanauw is currently supporting the COVID-19 response in Indonesia, working in one of Jakarta’s treatment centres. She stayed at the hospital centre for two months without going out at all. “I don’t think any of health-care workers had any idea we were going to live in this era,” she says.
“All of this always leaves a deep mark on me. Seeing with my own eyes what happens during a disaster, being able to help those in need with all my power, also failing to do so, has taught me so much about life,” she says.