Humans of UNICEF - Francisco Cuellar
27 years of service for every child
For the past 27 years his is the face that greets those who frequent the UNICEF office in Belize. While his roles have changed, he continues to be a mainstay celebrating 27 years of service to the children of Belize. However, Francisco Cuellar’s journey with UNICEF Belize began in the uncanniest way. He had initially applied for the position but was not successful. However, after an unfortunate accident resulted in the death of the person selected, three months later Francisco was called to take up the position. It would be the beginning of almost three decades of service that would see him grow professionally and contribute to office goals in the capacity of Driver, ICT Support, Office Assistant, and for a term, President of the Local Staff Association.
Over the years he has contributed to UNICEF Belize fulfilling its mandate to make Belize fit for its children. He has seen the office transition from being a part of the Guatemala office to establishing an official office in Belize City. He has seen changes in leadership, structures, and processes. Much of his time has been spent supporting programme work in the fields and he agrees that this has developed his skills far past the tasks he was recruited for. When asked what’s the key to his longevity Francisco shares that it is all about growing with the organization.
“Since joining UNICEF the organization has changed in so many ways. I began to realize that this is the nature of UNICEF. It must keep changing to meet the needs of the time. I simply accepted this and decided to not resist change but to learn to adjust and grow with the organization.”
He has also grown personally and credits UNICEF as a major support to his development. Life changed for him on September 15th, 2015, when he was caught in a traffic accident that resulted in the amputation of his right leg. Francisco recalls the support the organization provided.
“Through CIGNA and with support of UNICEF Headquarters I received much-needed assistance to overcome those difficult times. I was uncertain of my future, but the organization rendered unwavering support to help me restore my life and carry on.”
Francisco continues to work as an Office Assistant supporting the day-to-day functioning of the office. He is also a substitute functioning as a driver taking the UNICEF and other UN programme team to the field on important missions and field visits. He has also begun a new chapter in his life as an advocate for persons with disabilities. Since last year July he was elected as the Vice President of the Belize Assembly for Persons with Diverse Abilities (BAPDA); a role UNICEF’s training and exposure has certainly equipped him to fulfill.
His story is a testament to the character and resilience of the people who work for UNICEF across the globe. Whether at the programme or operations level Humans of UNICEF have grit and show great devotion to our mandate even through personal crises. In these instances, the relationship is mutually beneficial and enriching. For UNICEF Belize Francisco is an integral part of the team and his spirit and devotion has enhanced the work to change the lives of Belizean children.