Nivah Odwori, 1973 - 2010
United Nations Volunteer/Electoral District Coordinator (Kenya)
Nivah Odwori, a national of Kenya, and a UN Volunteer (UNV) in Haiti since July 2009 worked for the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) as a District Coordinator supporting the electoral process.
Nivah attended secondary school in Nairobi and an undergraduate programme at Bishop’s University in Québec, Canada. In 2006, she received a Master’s degree in diplomacy and strategic communication from Seton Hall University in New Jersey where she wrote her thesis on conflict resolution challenges in Sudan and India.
Prior to her service in Haiti, Nivah was a UNV District Electoral Advisor in Nepal.
Earlier in her career, she was a volunteer with the Kenya Red Cross Society in Nairobi. Later, she worked with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, serving as an advisor to its delegation to the 61st session of the United Nations General Assembly.
UNV Executive Coordinator Flavia Pansieri said, “Nivah was a compassionate and talented individual who had chosen to apply her skills to the cause of peace and development, as a volunteer. She was highly motivated and enthusiastic and this is a great loss to the Mission, her family and her friends.”
A UNV colleague in Haiti recalled an occasion when Nivah offered her home to people she had never met.
“They were four students and their coordinators who were sojourning in Port-au-Prince without an abode. She opened her doors for them for the weekend,” he said.
“She was always ready to help whenever she could, even if it meant working long hours, over the weekend or on holidays. She touched the hearts of those she interacted with in one way or the other,” said another colleague.
“You walk into the room and the first thing you notice is the big laugh,” said a close friend from New Jersey. “She had a calming effect on people. We called her ‘the diplomat,’” she said.
A colleague from Haiti agreed, “She always had a well placed word to defuse the atmosphere and make others feel relaxed.”
“Nobody who met her could stay indifferent because there was a magnetic force. [There was also] her gracefulness, her soft-spoken nature and her outreaching and proactive nature,” he said.
Friends and colleagues held memorial services for Nivah around the world, including in the United States, Guyana and Nepal.
Nivah is survived by her mother, sisters and brothers.