“What we're seeing is the desperation out there in the hospitals. We're seeing desperation in the communities. We're seeing even among our team being affected directly by it. At the same time, you know, we've seen communities come together.”

Yasmin Ali Haque has worked for the UN’s Children’s Fund, UNICEF for almost 25 years and is now the UNICEF Representative in India. She explains how the current coronavirus situation there is driving some of the world’s poorest families back to negative coping mechanisms including a returning rise in child marriage. Involved in emergency response throughout her career, Yasmin was also working in Sri Lanka when the devastating tsunami hit in 2004 and shares some of the heartbreaking stories from the wreckage alongside her memories of growing up in a repartition camp in Bangladesh during the Indo-Pakistan war in the 1970s.

“When I talk to people in the community, whether it's a health worker or a mum or a dad or a grandparent, that's the reality check for me. Are we really doing what is needed the most?”



Transcript and multimedia

Melissa Fleming 00:00


From the United Nations. I'm Melissa Fleming and this is Awake At Night. Joining me today is Yasmin Ali Haque who works for the UN's Children's Fund, UNICEF. She is the Country Representative in India. Yasmin, you are from Bangladesh, and you've worked for UNICEF for almost 25 years in many different countries. But before we get into that, I want to ask you about the situation at the moment in India, where the numbers of Coronavirus cases are soaring. What have you been seeing?


Yasmin Ali Haque 00:53


The biggest thing we've been seeing is desperation; fear, panic and desperation. As we went over the first wave last year, it was people beginning to normalise if I can put it that way. That, okay, we're over the hump. We're seeing things regularise. The schools started reopening for the senior classes. People were getting a bit more comfortable. And then the second wave hit in a way that no one really anticipated. And, you know, when the wave hit, it was already ahead of the curve. So whatever immediate measures people were taking to protect themselves, were at times too late.

And what we're seeing is the desperation out there in the hospitals. We're seeing desperation in the communities. We're seeing even among our team being affected directly by it. At the same time, you know, we've seen communities come together. We've seen how community groups have started. Places where people can go in and access oxygen if they need. So we've seen this amazing surge of people coming together. A group of young doctors, Doctors For You (DFY, they call themselves), have set up centres where they run oxygen therapy. If the patient is stable enough, and they just need their oxygen levels to be maintained and they need to be taught breathing exercises. Hotels have been converted into oxygen wards for people who need that to be able to breathe properly.


So it's amazing what is happening. And I think it's really about how do we all together ride this wave? Ride it in a way that we also learn where the cracks in the system are and how do we make it stronger and more resilient? Because already there's been talk about India being hit by a third wave. We're not even over the second wave yet. So we're in this for the long haul and I think it's like a marathon, you have to keep going and keep your energy going and keep focused on where are the gaps? And for UNICEF Of course, it's what are the impacts on children?

We're really looking at how do we keep the evidence going, keeping to learn how children are being affected. What happens to their parents affects children. Already schools have been closed for over a year. Remote learning in many states has had to come to a standstill because the teachers are so badly affected. And in any case, in the good case scenario or, in a best-case scenario, less than 50% of 300 million children, school-going age children, are able to access remote learning of any form. And of course, what happens in a family affects kids.

Imagine if we were told as kids, ‘You can't go out. You can't play with your friends. You have to stay in your room. You have to study looking at your computer screen.’ And the trauma of what they see poor families losing their livelihoods, kids losing their parents or grandparents. And that psychological trauma that they face can have long term consequences. So how do we anticipate and act? We're constantly challenging ourselves to do that.


Melissa Fleming 04:37


Wow. So you are already facing this challenge, what are you worried about most?


Yasmin Ali Haque 04:46


So many things. Of course, you know, now we're dealing with the immediate survival issues. What, of course, worries us the most is that we lose all the amazing gains that have been made over the past number of years. India has seen infant and neonatal mortality go down. We've seen maternal mortality reduced. We've seen a 50% reduction in child marriage in ten years’ time. All this is going to be affected. Poor families are adopting negative coping mechanisms.

They're looking at children who are not in school, going out and earning money for the family, that is cash strapped. They're looking at girls being married off below the age of 18. The children are seeing more violence because of the stresses in the household. Kids are getting orphaned. They're losing, you know, one or both parents and the extended caregivers. In a normal, you know, non-COVID or a non-health emergency, we see starting up learning spaces, getting kids into activities, you know, keeping them occupied. We can't do that. That just risks further spread.


Melissa Fleming 06:09


You mentioned child marriage, I think that must be...it’s not only in India as a result of the pandemic. We hear it's happening all over the world. It must be very distressing to hear these stories, is there anything that UNICEF can do to try to prevent child marriage from growing and getting much worse?


Yasmin Ali Haque 06:33


The key strategy for preventing child marriage has been keeping girls in school. And that key strategy is currently not available. When a poor family is faced with a decision, and where the family has to pay less dowry, if the girl is younger, choices that families make are not easy choices. And this is where we've been working a lot with young people, for them to be aware of their rights for them to be aware of what they can be doing. And we've seen amazing stories.

You know, I've had 10-year-old girls stand up and tell me how they saw that their friend was not coming to school. And they went and checked. And the parents were going to marry the girl off. And she went and argued with the girl's parents. And you know, I said to her, ‘But don't they tell you to just keep quiet and mind your own business?’ She said, ‘Yes, they do. But I tell them that it's not just about them. This is our nation's future and they are breaking the law.’

So when you see, you know, young kids who are fighting for their rights are fighting not just for their own but their sense of community and their sense of right or wrong. You know, that's where it just pushes you to be doing more. And I think that's what I take heart from. And for me also, it's like, I can't go out on field visits. I can't go and visit communities…


Melissa Fleming 08:20


Because of COVID.


Yasmin Ali Haque 08:22


Because of COVID right now. Exactly.


Melissa Fleming 08:24


And you're missing that?


Yasmin Ali Haque 08:25


Oh, am I missing it!


Melissa Fleming 08:27


What did you miss most about those places?


Yasmin Ali Haque 08:29


What I miss most is talking to people, talking to women, talking to children, talking to men. People who give it to you real as it is. When I talk to people in the community, whether it's a health worker or a mum or a dad or a grandparent, that's the reality check for me. Are we really doing what is needed the most? I once went into a young household, I think it was in Uttar Pradesh. And a young woman she would have been early 20s. She'd never been to school. Her husband had never been to school either. And he wasn't in the house. And I asked her, you know, ‘Why isn't he here?’ And she told me that, you know, the baby had been born at a time when the omens weren’t right. So the father is not even allowed to see the baby for forty days because it can bring bad luck. This was 2019.


Melissa Fleming 09:44


Was there a story that you can remember that you brought back from a community during one of your visits or from a family and then you took that story and brought it to scale so that family would be helped and many, many others?


Yasmin Ali Haque 10:00


You know, that's one of the first public health lessons I think I had. So I just graduated from med school. I pretty much decided that I did want to go into public health. I already had a daughter by then and I did not want to become a full-time clinician because you can't pick and choose if you become a clinician. My dad was a doctor himself and I've seen, you know, how his life was and how having my mum at home was so important for us. You try to find a balance, which juggling routine works best.

And so as I was exploring how I go forward, I did take a job with a German maternal child health family planning project in a rural area in Bangladesh. And as I was going around the village, I saw this young woman. She was pregnant, visibly pregnant, and she was carrying, you know, I think a two-year-old and she was outside a hut. And if you went into the hut, you would not be able to stand up, it was really makeshift. And so diarrhoea was one of the key killers of children in Bangladesh at that time. And so I started talking to her about, you know, ‘What do you do when your kid has diarrhoea? We come in and say to you, that you have to give your child ORS and more fluids and don't stop breastfeeding. And your mother-in-law might be telling you to stop all feeding. Starve the baby, because that's the way it's been done. Who are you going to listen to?’

Now this young woman who had... she was illiterate herself. She said to me, ‘You know, I'll try what both of you say, and I'll see what works best for my kid.’ And that lesson in humility, that it's not...People are not, no matter how poor or illiterate they are, they are not passive recipients. They will not trust everything I say or the media say to them. They will try what works for them. And for me, that has been a lesson that I've built on in everything I do.

Yasmin sits on the ground surrounded by young women.
Yasmin holds a child who is playing with a toy.


Melissa Fleming 12:29


There must be lessons from that for the COVID crisis as well. I mean, it hasn't really worked in India or anywhere in the world, that just the basics of how to protect yourself and the community from COVID dictated down from on high has translated into people actually changing their behaviour in many cases. And so how do you see those lessons that you've learned now, in this COVID context in India? How can we get out of it? I mean, you're in this major crisis, where public health measures need individual action desperately and also to avoid, as you mentioned, a third wave?


Yasmin Ali Haque 13:15


We have the vaccine and we have the social vaccine. And the social vaccine is wear your mask, wash your hands, watch your distance, and get vaccinated. So those are the four messages. Keeping it simple, keeping it very clear. When it comes to hand hygiene, this is such a unique opportunity because for years we've been talking about ‘wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands.’ And we've said it's life-saving for women and children. But here it's really emphasising that even more.

So what we are looking at also is, as we bring oxygen equipment for facilities, are we also looking at infection prevention, including the handwashing facilities, including sanitation in schools, in health centres, in the Anganwadi centres which are places where young children come together. So how do we build these systems that nurtures and keeps promoting this behaviour?

And then when it comes to distancing, I think distancing is the most difficult one. People in grief come together. People in joy come together. It's so much of this dynamic and this is where we're saying ‘Don't hug someone who's hurting or attend a wedding, which is a celebration.’ I think that where it's it's most difficult.


Melissa Fleming 14:50


I guess this must be a really, in a way, probably a unique situation in that, you know, usually the whole focus is on the people you serve. And in this case, you know, it's hitting everyone. It’s almost like being in a war zone that is indiscriminate as well. You are all in danger. Everyone's in danger and yet you still are there to deliver. So what is keeping you awake at night?


Yasmin Ali Haque 15:21


You know, it's this, what happens… You know, are we doing enough for our team? Are we doing enough for the children? You know, the worry is always there. You know, we're not in this for the short term, this is a long-term. It's been a year more than a year already. How do we keep the energy going? How do we keep motivated? How do we not become complacent? How do we keep the empathy and the humanity in a situation where we ourselves are affected and threatened?

I've worked in South Sudan, I've worked in the tsunami response. I've worked in Sri Lanka when the Civil War was still going on. You know, it's like, it's in pockets, right? But here, it's like, so many of our team members, not just here but all over the world, their families are affected in their homes. I don't really stay awake at night because, by the time my head hits the pillow, I’m out. But the worry of ‘are we doing enough?’ That's probably [it] and what else can we be doing?


Melissa Fleming 16:44


I know that UNICEF is all about childhood vaccinations and making sure that all children around the world have access to lifesaving vaccines. And now we're in a situation where we have this miracle of a COVID-19 vaccine. In fact, many of them. When you look at India, the numbers, the population is enormous. So tell us how you can imagine vaccinating India against COVID-19?

Yasmin welcomes 2 young adolescent girls with tea.


Yasmin Ali Haque 17:19


So when I was looking at the figures for today, we've reached over 170 million vaccine doses delivered in 110 days. That's massive. That's the largest vaccination drive that you could have. And still, like you said, it's only a fraction, we're a population of 1.2 billion. So we, as UNICEF, are monitoring more than 53,000 vaccination centres, the largest stakes on how to run a vaccination campaign is known in India.

And it's the experience coming from childhood vaccination, you know, you have 25 million kids entering the cohort every year. So that whole chain on how you reach communities, right down to the household level, is known. So there's so many ways in which we see the possibility of it, continuing of it, picking up is definitely there. So, like you said, the supplies will come and the mechanisms will be in place. So it's going to be keeping those supply chains going, keeping the communication around it going, working with all the community groups who influence people to get their vaccination, looking at making... listening to what are the barriers to vaccination, and that's where again, the community engagement and feedback from communities is going to be so important. But I have no doubt we're going to get there.


Melissa Fleming 19:05


You have been really involved in emergency response throughout your career. So this emergency in India is not new to you, just different types of emergencies. So in 2004, you were based in Sri Lanka and you had to deal with the devastating tsunami there. Can you remember where you were when you first heard the news and what did you do next?


Yasmin Ali Haque 19:30


Yes, so it was Boxing Day, right? 26th December 2004. I had gone home to Bangladesh, and we were on our way to the airport to take the flight back to Sri Lanka. My daughter was going to come over from the UK and we were going to have New Year together there. As I was in the car, one of my friends called me and said, ‘Have you heard there's been an earthquake?’ And I said, ‘No, I haven't heard anything about it.’ I started phoning around and then by the time I got to the airport, it was on the news of the tsunami hitting Sri Lanka.

And so I called my representative at the time, and he said, ‘It's bad. It's really bad.’ There were no direct flights. So it took us longer to get there. But I was in the office for the first emergency meeting the next morning. You know, I don't know where a year of my life went in a way, because it was just non-stop. We were a small office. We were operating throughout Sri Lanka. And that is really what helped us that we, for UNICEF, it's always that we're there before, during, and after.


Melissa Fleming 20:55


Can you just describe the destruction so we can picture it? I mean, you said that this was a year-long emergency, it must have been devastating.


Yasmin Ali Haque 21:04


It was surreal in a way because when I got out to the eastern part of Sri Lanka, you know, for about 800 metres, close to the shoreline, it was absolute rubble. And on the other side of the road, everything was there. So it was like something had come and just crushed everything on the right-hand side of the road. Whereas on the left-hand side of the road, buildings were standing, the crop fields were green, it was as though nothing had been disrupted.

So it was just surreal to see, you know, that line of how far the wave had come, and then distinctly the rest of it was okay. And again, in Sri Lanka, also, during the tsunami, the first responders were the communities. The first responders were those who were pulling people out and the stories when we went and we were going around the area that had been reduced to rubble. I found a mother who was going through the rubble in her house. And she had two kids, and she managed to survive with one kid and her husband and the other kid didn't survive. They were just pulled in different directions. I was talking to a young man, he said he was watching TV. It was Sunday morning. He was watching TV, and then his sister started shouting about the wave. Because the water receded. The water receded and then it came back as a giant wave. And he got his sister, he had a bike, a motorbike, and started driving along the way inland. When the first wave came and hit them. And next, he knows that they're both stuck on top of a tree. So he managed to tie himself and his sister, you know, tried to tie them to the tree, and then the second wave hit. And the next thing he knows he found himself on the ground a few 100 metres inland. And he never saw his sister again.


Melissa Fleming 23:30


I can imagine for children, it must have been particularly frightening. And how did UNICEF, and you, help children overcome this horrific event?


Yasmin Ali Haque 23:45


In that part of the country, it was a double whammy because, in many places, there were kids who had been displaced because of the conflict. And they were in temporary shelters. And then the tsunami hits their shelter too. And they were re-displaced if I put it that way. After the tsunami, if you remember, ‘build, back, better’ was the mantra. And in that building back better it was, how do we have a whole psychosocial support system in the formal education system, not just in the informal, you know? We looked at better accessibility for children who had disabilities. We looked at having separate toilets for boys and girls. So all the things that are needed, in an ideal situation, it was an opportunity to put that into practice.

Yasmin is speaking with a young girl.


Melissa Fleming 24:40


Yasmin, I'd like to ask you about your childhood. Where were you born, first of all?


Yasmin Ali Haque 24:45


I was born in Inverness, in Scotland. My dad is Bangladeshi and my mum is English and it goes back a lot to my dad's achievements if I put it that way. My dad was the first educated, even literate man in his family. He came from a very rural family in rural Bangladesh. But he had this drive and this thirst for education and learning. So he ran away from home where my grandmother had wanted him to become an Imam for the local mosque.

He enrolled in school. And he got scholarships and managed to finish his schooling. He studied and it was undivided India at the time. It was in the 1920s. He managed to get into medical school in Calcutta. And he graduated the year of partition and then came back to what was East Pakistan at the time. He was training as a surgeon. He got a scholarship and got on a ship and sailed to the UK and started his training in a Royal Infirmary Hospital in Halifax in West Yorkshire. And my mum was a nurse there. And they got married. And she followed him back to this part of the world. And he was working in Inverness when I was born.


Melissa Fleming 26:33


And then he took the family back. How did the partition of India affect your family?


Yasmin Ali Haque 26:39


The partition in 1947, it meant that my dad, you know, he came back to East Pakistan, and he was serving in East Pakistan. And then, in 1965, he joined the military. So he was a doctor in the military at that time. Then in 1971, when the Civil War started in East Pakistan, which led to the creation of Bangladesh, my dad was very nationalistic. Even though he was in the military, he wasn't one for really being told what to do. And because he had been involved in an incident where he didn't give the report, the military wanted him to... he was sent on a punishment posting to a very small rural station in West Pakistan. So mum, dad and four kids, we were then posted off there. And that's what saved him probably because he wasn't...

We left in 1970 and then when the Pakistani military crackdown in East Pakistan if he’d been there, who knows what would have happened to him? Being a doctor, he continued to work. I think his services were trusted more than his being outspoken about the situation of Bengalis. So after that, when Bangladesh became independent, we were still in West Pakistan at the time, in Karachi. That's when there was the next India-Pakistan war in 1971, and we were in an Air Force Base in Karachi at the time, you know, going through digging a trench in our garden, the drills in case there was an air attack.

All that was, you know, my mum was born during the Second World War. So she's, as a child, been used to a lot of hardship but at that time, she had to get used to how to be prepared for an airstrike. It was winter. Karachi in winter gets quite cold. Our warm clothes were in piles. Everyone had their pile. You hear the siren, you get out of bed, you put on your warm clothes, you go straight into the trench. When the first attack came, the next morning, my dad got my mum to take us and go to a friend's place away from the Air Force Base because it would have been a target.

You know, I remember my mum and how she was crying, but she was driving us and, you know, she was giving me all instructions of what to do in case anything happened to her. In retrospect, you know, I was telling her many years later that if anything had hit the car, it wouldn't have targeted you, we would all have been gone. But for her, it was what happens to us. I was the eldest, I just turned 11 and I had three younger brothers and the youngest was four. So it was for her quite a traumatic time.

And then we were evacuated because she's a British National. We were born there so we had British passports. But she was refusing to go. She was not going to leave my dad there and go off. I remember him telling her that if anything happens to the children. That was the thing that made her change her mind about going so we were kind of the last people on the last flight out. So we went to my grandparents’ house, you know, suddenly out of the blue, they have their daughter and four kids.

And then a month and a half later, we headed back because, after the ceasefire, it was clear that any government officials or military officials who were in West Pakistan would be interned till there was agreement on exchange, We spend a year and a half in a repatriation camp, it was called, my parents lost their savings at the time. I think the uncertainty that they must have felt at that time and how they coped with it was remarkable.

And, you know, when we were in this camp, there were, I think there were about more than a hundred other families there. Our parents organised themselves. So the fathers got together and started a school. They brought normalcy, they brought routine. And I'm passionate about education and immersion in emergency situations. And I think it comes from there, because a lot of the routine we got from that we learned a new language, we learned all the songs and the dances, so they kept us… You know, that was the psychological safe zone we were in.

And even though our parents didn't know what was going to happen next, and it went on for a year and a half, they kept us going in that routine. And I think that adds to your resilience, it adds to your humility, how much little we can get along with. And then we came back to Bangladesh and started afresh.

Yasmin wears protective gear as she and colleagues look through a window inside a vaccine facility.


Melissa Fleming 32:33


Did it feel like you were a refugee or did your parents talk about that? Did that term exist for you?


Yasmin Ali Haque 32:45


No, no. It didn't exist, no. So my mum, because she was a British National, the ICRC was allowed to visit her and she could go to the library. And she would... My dad was in, you know, he always had to keep busy and for a surgeon not using his fingers and his hands. And books were at a premium. So my mum would bring books, and he would copy them. Books that he thought we needed for schooling and everything, so he would be copying using his fingers and if he didn't want to do that, he started patchwork quilts to keep his stitching going. Our dining table was used as the operating table if a toenail needed removing. They always kept the hope. They always kept us in a routine. And I think that was probably one of the best things they could have done for us.


Melissa Fleming 33:47


It sounds like this must have influenced your choice of career, there seems to be a lot of parallels to your own childhood experience to what you're trying to deliver for children now?


Yasmin Ali Haque 34:02


In many ways, you know, in every life experience, I think, shapes you in one way or another. It brings you a greater appreciation of what you have, I think. How your parents have struggled and brought you to a place, you know, where you are able to do the best that you can. And that's so special.


Melissa Fleming 34:23


You have children of your own?


Yasmin Ali Haque 34:26


I do. I have two daughters.


Melissa Fleming 34:29


You're smiling with a lot of pride.


Yasmin Ali Haque 34:34


Absolutely. They're both young working women, and they have their own lives. They're passionate about what they do. I learned so much from them, you know, being a parent and growing with my kids and discovering so much about myself through them. It's helped me also deal with difficult situations because, you know, like... I guess when we were growing up, you did as you were told in many ways. I wouldn't try that with my daughters.

I've learned to discuss with them, to talk to them, to present options to them. And that's helped me in dealing with other difficult situations. And they've kept me grounded. They've helped because, you know, I think especially for women, we try to do everything. We have to be perfect at doing everything. For me, my daughters really kept me grounded in that if I was doing too much, I would be told in no uncertain terms. And they learned so much from the exposure they had because of the work I do. It's like they accompany me in my journey.


Melissa Fleming 35:57


Well, they must have had to accompany you in quite a professional journey in which you were in places like South Sudan and you know, as you mentioned, Sri Lanka, and now India. How did you manage to keep a family life together?

Yasmin is standing next to a bed where a baby is lying down with the mother sitting close by. Two women are standing next to them.


Yasmin Ali Haque 36:13


You know, it's all about choices, really. I had my children when I was younger, you know, in my mid-20s, and early 30s. And I chose not to go to South Sudan when my kids were still with me. I went to South Sudan when my younger daughter went to university. So she went to university, I went to South Sudan. It's always a balance and it's what you feel most comfortable with. And that's something I… You can make choices. And you can take time out, you know, there were, there were two years when I was just an accompanying spouse and a mother. And I did a lot in it. But I've had such opportunities and I've gone with the flow of it.

But for me, it was very clear, my kids came first, I was fortunate that I could make choices that helped me stick to that. It's also, you know, my father passed away a few years ago but he lived till he was 97. I would try to go and see him two to three times a year. And every time you see him, it was like, will I see him again or not? And so you're trying to balance all that; your career, your kids, your parents. A colleague of mine, I think he gave me the best piece of advice ever. He said, you know, because one day the alarm went off. I was so tired. I didn't realise my daughter had switched off and I went to sleep. And next thing I know, we should have been out of the house by then.

So the kids were late for school, and I was late for the first meeting in the office and my colleague, you know, he said to me, how are you today? I said, ‘It's awful. My juggling act has collapsed.’ And he said ‘What happened?’ I told him and he said, ‘Yeah, but did you drop a rubber ball or a crystal ball?’ And I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘You have to be careful to be clear on which are your crystal balls and which are the rubber balls because the rubber balls will bounce back. Just don't let the crystal balls fall. Be careful with the crystal balls.’ And I thought to myself, ‘Oh my god, I'd missed one meeting. The kids were late for school one day. You know, it's no major disaster.’


Melissa Fleming 38:49


Many of us will take that advice. I wish I had that before. crystal balls and the rubber balls. I guess your daughters must be worried about you now, given the situation in India and how, you know, the virus is just everywhere.


Yasmin Ali Haque 39:07


They are, of course, you know, but it's like we're Skyping pretty often or Facetiming or Whatsapping every day. They keep me strong. My husband is here with me so they know he will have some influence over [me]. At least I'm not alone in that bubble.


Melissa Fleming 39:28


That’s really important. And I wonder what you and maybe you and your husband do to kind of relax?


Yasmin Ali Haque 39:35


We've made it a point of going for a walk every morning. Eating healthier, being conscious about what we're eating. Sitting at the table and having a meal instead of pushing it down my throat in front of the TV or anything so spending, you know, that quality time. Appreciating it when the pollution levels went down after the lockdown - amazing! You could see blue sky in Delhi. We could see the Lotus Temple from our balcony.

We’re in a part of town where Humayun’s tomb, we can see from our rooftop. There's a beautiful garden near as and when they opened up it was like ‘alright’ so getting the steps, being out. Watching peacocks dance. My husband took to feeding the kites because the kites were starving last year. So it's really appreciating the things that in a busy everyday life we might not have. And again, it comes back to what else can we be doing? How else can we help?


Melissa Fleming 40:50


Yasmin, thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us for Awake At Night.


Yasmin Ali Haque 40:55


Thank you for really also reminding me of so much of what's happened in my life.


Melissa Fleming 41:01


Please take care and stay safe and all the best to all of your colleagues in India at this difficult time.


Yasmin Ali Haque 41:08


Thank you, Melissa. Really pleasure talking to you.


Melissa Fleming 41:19


Thank you for listening to Awake At Night. We'll be back soon with more incredible and inspiring stories from people working to do some good in this world at a time of this global crisis. To find out more about the series and the extraordinary people featured, do visit un.org/awake-at-night. On Twitter, we're @UN and I'm @melissafleming. Yasmin is @DrYasminAHaque. Subscribe to Awake At Night wherever you get your podcasts and please take the time to review us. It does make a difference.


Thanks to my producers Bethany Bell, and the team at Chalk & Blade: Laura Sheeter, Cheri Percy, Fatuma Khaireh, and Alex Portfelix, and to my colleagues at the UN; Roberta Politi, Darrin Farrant, Geneva Damayanti, Rajiv Chandran, Tulin Battikhi, and Bissera Kostova. Special thanks to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs for their support.


The original music for the podcast was written and performed by Nadine Shah and produced by Ben Hillier. The sound design and additional music was by Pascal Wyse.