‘I am as equally well-trained as a male soldier'

August - November 2019

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‘I am as equally well-trained as a male soldier'

– Ms. Patricia Matola, serving in DR Congo
Author: 
Ms. Patricia Matola

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Patricia Matola and I’m 26 years old. I am a Lance Corporal in the Malawi Defence Force, where I have served for the last seven years. This is my first UN deployment.

How long have you been a UN peacekeeper and what are your responsibilities?

I was deployed here in August 2018. I provide support to the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO’s) infantry troops tasked with protecting civilian populations from physical violence by armed groups in our area of responsibility.

Why did you choose this career? How did you become a UN Peacekeeper?

I have always wanted to be part of these courageous men and women working hard to ensure that there is peace and stability, not only in my country but also in the region and the world at large. To become a peacekeeper, I had first to join my country’s Defence Forces before being deployed as a UN peacekeeper.

What is your typical day like?

My day usually begins with physical exercises in the morning. It helps me to stay healthy and physically fit to effectively discharge my duties. Thereafter, I report to my office for the day’s tasks besides providing security to the base camp through sentry duties.

What are some of the highlights of your service at your current peacekeeping mission? What three things you like most about the country you are deployed in?

There are many things I like about the Democratic Republic of the Congo, particularly the people. They are friendly, and we work together amicably towards achieving peace. Besides, the Congolese are a hardworking people, which is best manifested by the various income generating activities they are involved in through small-scale businesses.

What part of your job do you find most challenging and why?

The most challenging part of this job is that you need to remain fit and professional at all time. In order to progress, training is stressed as it reinforces one’s professionalism. Military training has never been easy and this one is no exception.

What did your family and friends back home think about your decision to leave your country and work for a UN peacekeeping mission?

Because I am a woman, my family thought I would find it tough here. They were really pessimistic but later realized that I am as equally well-trained as a male soldier. They are very proud of me and keep encouraging me to continue working hard.

What do you do when you have some spare time?

I like playing tennis, watching movies and singing.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I see myself as being one of the greatest female Special Forces. I have done the basic courses and I would like to progress on this path. It is not easy, but it is possible.

What would you say to young people considering a career in peacekeeping?

Let young people find out what it takes to qualify to join the military in their own countries and always strive to meet the standards. From there, they can be deployed as UN peacekeepers.