Filipino volunteer laid to rest

UNV volunteer Jossie G. Esto, who died during the attack on a UN guesthouse in Kabul on 28 October, has been laid to rest in her native Philippines.

The memorial service in New Washington, Aklan Province, on 11 November was attended by about 300 people. They included UNV Executive Coordinator Flavia Pansieri, who read a statement on behalf of UNV volunteers and staff about Ms. Esto’s life and work.

“Jossie’s memory lives within each of us,” said Ms. Pansieri, “and that memory is one of a skilled volunteer and experienced colleague, a friend, and a warm-hearted person who shared her time, her energy and her intellect to help others in need.” After reading the eulogy, Ms. Pansieri presented Ms. Esto’s children with a book of condolences prepared by the UNV staff association.

On behalf of the UN family in the Philippines, UN Resident Coordinator Jacqueline Badcock said: “We will miss the surprising depth and scope of her knowledge and the volunteer spirit that she demonstrated to make the world a better place to live in… Her spirit lives on. We must not lose her spirit. Her examples of love, caring and determination will live as an inspiration to all of us.”

Other speakers at the service were: UNV volunteer Ms. Gemma Camique, from the UNV Support Unit to the UNDP/ELECT project; Mr. Arlyn D. Recla from UNDP/ELECT; Mr. Joselito de Vera of the Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency (PNVSCA); Atty. Edgar R. Peralta, Municipal Mayor of New Washington; Hon. Charito I. Navarosa, Municipal Mayor of Libacao; and Mrs. Linda M. Azur, a classmate and friend of Ms. Esto.

Responses were read by Jossie Esto’s sister, Ms. Joy G. Fernandez, and her daughter Joganej Sabine G. Esto.

Ms. Esto was buried the next day at the Holy Rosary Memorial Park in New Washington. Schools along the route suspended classes as the procession passed.

Jossie Esto was one of five UN personnel and three Afghans killed during an attack on the Bekhtar guesthouse in Kabul. At the time of her death, she was serving as an Electoral Outreach and Training Coordinator with the UNDP/ELECT project and had been in Afghanistan for just over a year. Prior to serving in Afghanistan, she was a UNV volunteer in Liberia, Timor-Leste and Nepal.

Your browser may not support display of this image. Originally a school teacher, Ms. Esto had a BSc in Elementary Education and an MA in Vocational Productivity. In the Philippines, she had worked as a Civic Education Officer and as an Electoral Officer in her home province of Aklan during the1990s.

In Afghanistan, Jossie Esto was initially assigned to the electoral office in the eastern region. Later, she was assigned as Finance Officer for Field Operations.

The UNV Programme Manager for UNDP/ELECT, Stuart Moran, said: “Jossie was very diligent and conscientious about her work… She truly believed in the concept of volunteerism and was very happy and proud to be a UNV volunteer.” He added: “Jossie was everyone’s best friend. She could literally light up a room with her sparkling personality.”

Nowelyn Aytin-Tshering, a Filipino national who had served with Jossie as a UNV volunteer in Liberia, also recalled her work fondly. “She missed teaching in school,” said Ms. Aytin, “but the opportunity to work abroad gave her more experience in capacity building. Whenever she trained somebody, she would always tell them to take all the knowledge she could give.”