Focus on Fellows
Director of Support and Development,
Afghan Customs Department, Ministry of Finance
Afghan Fellow - 2015; Coach 2016, 2018;
UNITAR South Sudan Fellowship Programme, International Mentor - 2017
Mariam first joined the UNITAR Afghanistan Fellowship Programme as a Fellow in 2015. Through every stage of the programme, which teaches project development and leadership skills, Mariam had new realizations about her work, and the practical experience she gained through her assignments reinforced her understanding. By the end of the six-month programme, Mariam saw changes in herself, including her ability to work effectively in a team.
As a Fellow, Mariam was part of a group whose project was “Save Women, Save Society.” The project focused on training family health action groups in the Kabul suburbs; the action groups gave families without access to clinics first aid training and supplies for pregnancy and childbirth in order to decrease mortality and morbidity rates. The project was implemented by the Afghanistan Ministry of Public Health. After being piloted in Kabul, it was replicated in other provinces.
For the following two cycles of the programme, Mariam has returned to serve as a Coach. In her own words, the role of a Coach is to “pave the way for others’ growth and build their leadership skills. Coaches help Fellows reflect on their own performance and come to new realizations.”
She said that the most rewarding part of being a Coach is learning about each group member and seeing the group achieve their objectives by the end of the programme.
Recently promoted, Mariam’s role as Director of Support and Development in the Customs Department, Ministry of Finance, is to oversee the customs and tax academy and the project coordination and legal departments. She helps manage international donors, Afghanistan government projects, and capacity-building programmes to reform and modernize customs. Mariam is the first woman to serve as a director in the Customs Department.
Mariam is often involved in planning in her work, so she utilizes her technical knowledge of the Results Framework to plan for success through each step of a project. The Fellowship also gives extensive training on workstyles, which Mariam makes best use of when working with groups and patiently developing her team. Her role as a facilitator, the skills for which she learned through the Fellowship and honed as a Coach, is based on her understanding of her coworkers’ personalities, and Mariam says she thinks consciously about her responses to each individual.
Having visited Hiroshima three times through the Fellowship, Mariam says she receives positive energy each time she comes to Japan thanks to the polite, welcoming, and positive culture. Without thinking, Mariam finds herself reacting positively as well, and her stress and frustration levels go down. She says that Hiroshima is admirable for managing its development well in the postwar period and for keeping remnants of war as signs of peace for new generations.