TUMBLR SPECIAL SERIES: Stories from UNICEF staff members serving in some of the most challenging environments in the world
Let’s unite our efforts for our children, especially the most vulnerable ones
By Carmen Garrigos - Polio Chief - Kabul, Afghanistan
My name is Carmen Garrigos and I was born in Spain. I have always dreamt of helping children, especially the most vulnerable, overlooked and forgotten ones who lost their smiles because of challenges that life has thrown at them, or those children who live in adverse conditions and in surroundings which are full of sorrow and difficulty. Over the years I have been very lucky because I have had the opportunity to be part of teams of humanitarian workers that worked hard to bring basic services and love to the children and women of Somalia, Southern Senegal and Southern Sudan.
Many times the risk of delivering services in such conflict-affected countries, in which colleagues have either lost their lives or limbs, is high. But that doesn’t deter us from our aim which has always been the safety, wellness and protection of the children and women we serve. Whatever the hurdles, I have always tried to ensure that services and supplies reach those in need at the right time. It is not only my job to serve the needy and poor; it is my duty as a human being to support those who are less privileged than me.
As I write this note, I fondly remember the faces, smiles and courage of women, women’s groups, and mothers in many parts of the world that played and continue to play such a crucial role in reducing the suffering of children. I think about them with great admiration and respect.
In Afghanistan, I am proud to serve with a team of passionate professionals who work day and night to achieve our goal – eradicating Polio from Afghanistan and from the world. Every time I sit in a hall near my office where photos of those who lost their lives while working for children of this country are placed, I am overwhelmed. I look at them and in my thoughts tell them that we are here to take ahead and fulfill their dream of a world that is rid of this deadly disease which paralyses our children or can even kill them. I am sure their dream will come true very soon.
While we work very hard with our partners, including the government and civil society, I feel that the biggest contributors to bringing about change in this country are women. Their work needs to be acknowledged as they have paid a high price in trying to ensure that their children get the crucial two drops of polio vaccine. It is not easy being a woman in these parts and especially if you are determined against all odds to ensure that your child remains healthy. I admire these women who have the courage to stand up against social and cultural pressures and make sure their children are protected against deadly diseases.
Finally I am very happy to be working in Afghanistan where, with a great team, we are confident that we can win the war against polio as well as many other diseases.
Let’s unite our efforts for our children, especially the most vulnerable ones.
Photo caption: Carmen Garrigos visits a polio vaccination outreach center in Afghanistan and helps deliver the polio vaccine popularly known as the “two drops of life”.
Photo credit: © UNICEF/Aziz Froutan