By Mercy Kolok
JUBA, South Sudan, December 6, 2016—Alfred Tombe is one of those guys you meet and hit it off immediately. He is a simple, jolly and humble man who is always helpful. Even when he doesn’t know you, he will strike up a conversation and crack some jokes to make you feel at ease as he drives you to or from the airport.
Tombe joined UNICEF South Sudan in 2006 and works as the airport driver. Unlike his fellow colleagues who start their day at 7:30am, Tombe’s typical day starts as early as 5:30am and ends at 6:30pm every day of the week. Despite working long hours every day, Tombe does it diligently and does not complain.
“I see my role as supporting colleagues to deliver results for children. If I do not sacrifice my time, staff will miss their flights and this in turn will delay delivery of services to children,” he says.
Asked if this affects his social and family life, Tombe responded by saying, “My family understands that I have to work in order to provide for them so they do not complain but I also make sure that I rush home to them after duty.”
Apart from driving staff to and from the airport, Tombe supports the administration section in processing the documentation required by immigration for international staff. He is always at the ready to help staff should they run into difficulties with officials at the airport.
“I would have been lost when I arrived at Juba airport if Tombe had not been there to help with the visa and my baggage,” said Nagendra Prasad Singh, a WASH Specialist.
When staff were asked to nominate someone for the staff member of the year award, the staff association were overwhelmed with responses from colleagues throughout the country nominating Tombe for the good work and support he has provided to colleagues throughout the year.
“During the July crisis in Juba, Tombe ensured that my baggage was safe and made every effort so that it arrived at my destination,” said Cecilia Aldo, a Programme Assistant.
“I have never met anyone who is as punctual and as dedicated to his work as Tombe. He is very hardworking, follows instructions and will go out of his way to get things done. I am really proud of him, he truly deserves this award,” says his supervisor Joseph Ali.
As he received his award at the colorful end of year staff party, Tombe was overwhelmed with happiness. It was an emotional moment for everyone.
“I am so happy and grateful to my colleagues for recognizing my efforts. I really feel honored. Thank you colleagues, thank you UNICEF.