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WFP, my work and me…Ume Kalsoom

An alternative look into the lives and backgrounds of the staff who help drive WFP’s work
, Suzanne Fenton

Ume Kalsoom is the Food Safety and Quality focal point in Juba, after starting her WFP career in her home country of Pakistan. Her role includes oversight across the entire South Sudan operation, from food inspections to management of any issues with the products and packaging

Woman inside WFP truck
Ume oversees food inspections across South Sudan. Photo: WFP/Johnson Abraham 
Who has inspired you most in your life?

That’s a difficult question! There are a lot of senior people in WFP who I respect, and I aspire to be like…so I would say Ashraf, my supervisor in my first job back in Pakistan, in the bread and cake-making industry. He was a very senior person with extensive knowledge and skills in food sciences, and I learned small things about life from him – how to forgive, how to work with a full heart, and that attitude really matters in a job. 

What is the best decision you have ever made?

Joining WFP – although it was only a short-term contract. Moving to South Sudan was also a great decision as I was very confused at that time because I had two options: go on TDY [temporary deployment] in Somalia or a job in South Sudan. I thought it was time to push my limits, so Juba won. 

Woman eating an ice-cream
Florence is among the cities where Ume would most like to live. Photo supplied by Ume Kalsoom
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

It’s an Urdu saying, شکر خورے کو شکر ہی ملتی ہے, which in English means: "One gets what one desires" or "He that loves a good meal shall have a good meal." In other words, if you are progressive, you will always be progressive. Also, one of my friends told me I excessively use “has to” in conversation. 

Where in the world would you most like to live?

Florence. Any time. I went once and was so mesmerized. My top two places to live are Islamabad and Florence. 

Why do you do the work you do?

It keeps me motivated and energized and I feel I’m doing something that has a positive impact on communities, like I’m adding value. WFP’s South Sudan operation offers you new challenges and gets the best out of you. Everything starts as a challenge and ends as an achievement.

When have you felt at your happiest?

I’m happy every day. My happiest is still to come. 

You can learn more here about our work in South Sudan 


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