Youth Leads #1 : Welcome, Youth Lead Headquarters!

14 May 2015

Being selected as one of the four UN Youth Volunteers to be part of the UNDP Youth Leads programme is definitely one of the best news I have ever heard. While the opportunity to work for the UNDP is definitely something that would excite anyone, what truly excited me, as well as the rest of the team, was what our new assignment consisted of. It presented us with the opportunity to work with the UNDP and the clusters within it to come up with innovative initiatives and solutions that would benefit all Sri Lankans, especially our young peers. Basically, identify a problem, find an innovative solution and implement it. Quite the dream job, isn’t it?

I went into work on May 5th, completely unaware of what to expect with the team. Most of my interaction with them had been really brief or through our incredibly advanced information sharing portal, Whatsapp. However, upon stepping into the YL HQ (what we like to call our work area) there was instant cohesion with each of us chucking ideas at one another like we had been working together for years. To say that we fit like a glove would be an understatement- I could not have asked for a better group of people to work with. The best people to work with (in my opinion), must have 3 characteristics: 1) Brilliance 2) Energy 3) Desire to deliver despite all odds. Joanne, Sulaiman and Archana have all 3.

The rest of the week consisted of several induction sessions that showed us a side of the UNDP that not many people get to see. Fadhil, Sveva, Thilini and the UN Volunteers, in particular, were great sources of inspiration because seeing that many young people, with so much energy, working so hard and efficiently should be an example to everyone. I do not think this week would have been as great as it was without them.

To many in the public, the people behind UNDP’s work are not visible. But meeting Country Director Joern Sorensen and Deputy Country Director Lovita Ramguttee showed us the inner side of UNDP – the people that care and want to make things better. Our meetings with our brilliant, multi-faceted and incredibly articulate cluster focal points, Keshini, Sonali, Tharuka, Madushi and Dhanushki, illustrated how resourceful the organization really is. We have some of the brightest minds in the country working together to make Sri Lanka a better place and we, the four Youth Leads, have the privilege of working with them. It struck me then that this was not just the UNDP. It was our UNDP. Sri Lanka’s UNDP.

The week was already going really well but it was bolstered by an extremely unexpected, yet very humbling experience. Mr. Subinay Nandy, Resident Coordinator of the UN Sri Lanka and Resident Representative of UNDP Sri Lanka walked with us into our office and spoke to us about his own experiences and provided us with advice that I’m sure all of us will take with us wherever life takes us- 20 years down the line, I will still remember that moment.

It’s been a phenomenal start and the four of us know that we have a great opportunity to deliver on some incredible things here. So, who are we? We are the UNDP Youth Leads and we will spend the next 12 months working as hard as we can, for as long as we have to, to make the lives of our fellow Lankan youth better, and have a really good time doing it.   

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