UN COMMUNITY VOLUNTEERS IN KOSOVO: Bridging local employment offices and communities amid COVID-19

Posted July 15, 2020

UN Community Volunteers celebrating the International Volunteer Day 2019 at Termokiss, Prishtinë/Priština, Kosovo

When the strong sense of altruism of enthusiast UN Community Volunteers gets combined with professional work, wonders happen.

This is the case of Elza Ejupi, a young law student and volunteer at the Employment Office in Podujevë/Podujevo.  Despite the extremely difficult situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, during the lockdown Elza continued working remotely and helped more than 640 job applicants to get a second chance to find a job by correcting technical errors in their application documents.

“When I acknowledged that many job applications were left unreviewed and that this could have caused the applicants to lose their chances of being employed or to receive the emergency package offered by the institutions, I decided to step in: I took the whole batch at home, went through thousands of them and reached out to the candidates to correct their errors. The situation was not easy, but I believe that helping people should be unconditional, against all the odds!”

Elza Ejupi, UN Community Volunteer

Elza was appointed seven months ago to improve outreach and assist in the delivery of public service to her peers and her work has been crucial in supporting young job-seekers in her community by contributing to enhance their employability through the provision of information. As the main purpose of an employment office is to bridge between job-seekers and employers, her goal has been to increase the awareness of job-seekers of the diverse professional opportunities in Kosovo and, ultimately, to help build their confidence in the ability to identify their professional selves.

“Before starting, I wasn’t fully aware of the power of an employment office as a medium for changing individuals, but working there, I have understood that if you want a job and actively seek it, you will find it and it will transform you!”

The commitment and hard work of UN Community Volunteers is often motivating and positively influencing their communities, especially their friends and extended family, proving that volunteers are true agents of change for being able to impact lives of individuals.

Nora Kelmendi, UN Community Volunteer

This happened indeed to Nora Kelmendi, a young aspiring teacher, volunteering for the Employment Office in Mitrovicë/Mitrovica who, during her assignment, has relentlessly  encouraged many of her friends to register as job-seekers and to stay active.

“So many friends were undecided, they didn’t know what to do after graduation, so I advised them to come to the Employment Office. In a very short time, seven of them found jobs.”

Nora prides herself in being able to increase the level of knowledge on employment opportunities to her peers and is confident in the thought of continuing to be a key actor of information. Above all, she cherishes volunteering and is grateful for being part of this learning experience.

“Out of all different professions out there, I have the biggest respect for volunteerism”.

The assignments of Elza and Nora were made possible by the UN Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund as part of the project “Empowering Youth for a Peaceful, Prosperous and Sustainable Future in Kosovo[1]” jointly implemented by UNDP-UNV, UNICEF and UN Women.

Story by: Trina Ukmata