Voices: Helping start something new in the country of my birth

“It was certainly time for me to be back home ‒ to help make a difference to the lives of my country people and those in neighbouring countries.” - Linda Agbesi, UNOPS Programme Support Officer, Ghana.

​​​I had been back in Ghana for just about a year when a devastating event hit Accra, one that deeply affected me. The city was experiencing heavy rainfall with the associated problems of flooding, which is typical for that time of year. People were scrambling for shelter and fighting to keep their belongings from floating away. Vehicles sat parked and unused because of the rising floodwaters. Amid the chaos, gasoline whad been leaking from a gas station and spreading to surrounding areas with the flooding.

It is unclear what happened next, however,​​ a spark must have caused an explosion at the gas station, triggering a major fire. Sadly, this event claimed around 200 lives of people who had been seeking shelter in the area. Like many others in our vibrant city I was horrified. I grieved for the catastrophic loss of life and destruction of property. I kept thinking that the flood and fire should never have happened and could have been prevented with stronger infrastructure and safety measures. The whole terrible situation showed me that it was certainly time for me to be back home ‒ to help make a difference to the lives of my country people and those in neighbouring countries.

My husband and I spent the better part of a decade in the UK, where I worked for a private organization focused on transportation. The private-sector approach that I'm used to, of getting things done efficiently and quickly, is very much present in UNOPS work, which is really good to see.

I joined UNOPS earlier this year and am helping establish our new office in Ghana, which is responsible for operations in Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria, as well as Ghana.

One of the first things that struck me about UNOPS is the high value our leadership places on different ideas and types of talent within the local team. We each play an important part in realizing the office's objectives, which creates a positive and motivating work environment.

After I started my position, I was also very happy to discover that UNOPS operates at the highest standards. When we procure goods and services for our work, the tender process is extensive, transparent and fair. Everyone submits a bid as per the requirements, which is then objectively evaluated. You are not selected based on who you know on the inside. This approach is not as common as it should be in other places, so we are setting a really good example in this regard in the region.

Besides the job, I am also happy to be back among my friends and family in Ghana. Ghanaian society is very collective and cheerful. We spend a lot of time visiting each other and celebrating one thing or another. Interestingly enough, we come together in large numbers to celebrate funerals; we believe in rejoicing a person's life and sending them off in style. You will often hear older people reminding their younger kin to keep this in mind when their time comes. 

I feel like I am starting a new chapter in my life and look forward to my future with UNOPS and everything it brings with it. I look forward to working with the organization to make a positive impact on the lives of my fellow Ghanaians.