As part of our “Americans in the UN” project to share the stories of Americans who work for the United Nations, we talked to Catherine Bauman from Danville, Virginia, who works as a Child Protection Specialist with UNICEF. Bauman has been working in East Africa for over five years, in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
What is your message to Americans about the importance of the UN?
Catherine Bauman: The United Nations delivers critical assistance in some of the hardest-to-reach areas of the world and supports development based on evidence of what works. United States leadership and engagement is important to the success of this great experiment and its commitment to humanity.
What motivates you to work for the UN?
CB: I’m motivated by the conviction that all children deserve a chance in life. The future is bright if we invest in our children through improving quality of and access to education, water, health, nutrition, and protection services. The United Nations brings together countries around the world with a shared commitment for delivering effective programming and advocacy with and for children.
From your experience, what is an example of how the UN has made a difference in someone’s life?
CB: While working with the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), children associated with armed groups escaped and received assistance from the UN and our partners. Many children demonstrate remarkable resilience and determination.
Children as young as 8 years old were recruited by an armed group, trained, and escaped after years of grave violations. Through programming by the UN and our partners, children learned a trade or returned to school, participated in psychosocial support activities, and integrated into community life again.
How did you first learn about the UN?
CB: When I was around 4 years old, my father brought home a UN Convention on the Rights of the Child T-shirt from a conference he attended. This is my first memory related to the UN. Much of my career has been focused on children’s rights so I guess it was my calling/fate!
What is the favorite part of your job?
CB: My favorite part of my job is seeing the resilience of children, parents, communities, and partners despite the most challenging circumstances. I enjoy hearing children, parents, or partners give testimonies and providing feedback about our work, and then working to build on and improve programming based on lessons learned. Knowing we have impacted someone’s life in a positive way is incredibly rewarding.
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