A coffee with...

As part of the farewell, we had a chat with Alma, about her work for IOM, the importance of teamwork, plans for the future, and lessons learned.


ALMA ŠUNJE is a traveler, dancer, hiker, humanitarian, mother, grandmother... IOMs dedicated staff for 24 years.


Starting in 1998, Alma has been a part of many important programs and initiatives that IOM implemented in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH): from supporting the return of qualified nationals, assistance to former soldiers, support to Holocaust survivors and Roma population, counter-trafficking and labor migration projects, to the latest project supporting knowledge exchange between local institutions and experts from BiH diaspora which wrapped-up the years of providing services.

Her first engagement as Business Advisor in IOM enabled qualified individuals to return to Bosnia and Herzegovina as their motherland, enabling them to contribute to the rehabilitation of the postwar country and to enhance socio-economic development.

Speaking about her first experiences as part of IOM, she highlights how proud she is of the fact that most of those beneficiaries succeeded, grew into recognized and famous entrepreneurs and professionals.  Alma kept in touch with them years after the project's completion, standing by their side through good and bad times, enjoying their support and affection in return.

Looking back: Various projects brought many valuable stories, memories, and encounters

„The most important thing is to look at individuals as humans, persons who have different stories, experiences, destinies.“, Alma says.

 All of the people Alma had the opportunity to meet helped her to confirm her value system, strive for better, and determine priorities. She says that her work never ended just with the project's objectives – she aimed to make the best out of each situation and to give the most to beneficiaries. She tried to connect people, provide relevant and useful information, and let the beneficiaries know that she values and listens to them.

„The most important thing is to observe the human dimension of each individual case that we meet through our work. Life does not start with the project, nor it ends. That's why it is important to invest efforts into developing connections and relationships since those continue to live within time and space.“

Implementing different activities, Alma had the opportunity to meet and work with people from all around BiH. When her daughters were hiking and stopping for a coffee in remote mountain villages, after asking for their name, people would usually ask: „And what is your relation to Alma Šunje?“ She recalls how surprised her daughters were, asking how does Alma know so many people all over BiH.

Alma's stories show that she was working with her heart, carried with enthusiasm, and wish to help vulnerable people. She recalls that, sometimes, seeing people and families in great need, sick and without any income, brought distress and even greater wish to help and strive to provide the best support possible. Very often, Alma went out of her way to help others because leaving people in need behind was not an option.

Teamwork is the future of every task that needs to be done.

When speaking about her colleagues, she says that the support she found among her colleagues was of great importance: „Good teamwork is the foundation of good work and good results. If all of us invest efforts and the best of our expertise, we will easier and better reach the set goal. Nowadays, information is to that point multiplied that one person cannot cover and follow everything. Teamwork is the future of every task that needs to be done. We, in IOM, spend more time with our colleagues than with our families, and we should always keep that in mind and consider our team as a family where each member aims to create the best environment possible. Supporting and helping each other, providing a helping hand in the crisis, realizing that some hasty reactions might be the result of some private problems, should be considerations of each individual.“

Conversation with Alma was inspirational and emotional, to say the least. It evoked memories, positive and memorable moments, anecdotes, and lessons applicable to everyone.

Alma continues her endeavors to enjoy life, make the most out of it by reading, dancing, hiking, traveling, holding her grandchildren, supporting those in need... We are sure that Alma will fill the pages of her life with the nicest colors. For us, she leaves the legacy and example of someone proactive, positive, professional, empathetic, and trustworthy.

IOM Bosnia and Herzegovina is very proud of the success Alma achieved, having her on board was of great value for the Organization. We are grateful for Alma's contribution to our values and goals, and also for being a good colleague, and for many of us in IOM - a good friend.

Alma, we wish you all the best!



SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities