Online Volunteers Honoured For 'Outstanding' Contributions to Achieving the MDGs

04 Dec 2010

Bonn, Germany: The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme today announced the winners of the "Online Volunteering Award 2010", honouring the "outstanding‟ contributions of volunteers who work entirely over the Internet to contribute to peace and development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

A jury of experts in volunteerism and development cooperation chose the winners based on their commitment and contributions, the results of their collaboration and their impact on the activities of the non-profit development organizations they supported. The jury included:

  •  Ms Addys Then Marte, Executive Director of Alianza ONG, Dominican Republic;
  •  H.E. Dr Diala Haj Aref, Minister of Social Affairs and Labour of the Syrian Arab Republic;
  •  Ms Geri Lau, Head of the Youth Action and Volunteering Development Department of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC);
  •  Mr Giorgio Guazzugli-Marini, Programme Manager of the Youth in Action Programme of the European Commission;
  •  Ms Sue Gardner, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation;
  •  Ms Yasuko Shimizu, Senior Operations Officer at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR);
  •  UNV representatives from country offices and headquarters.

The winners of the Online Volunteering Award 2010 are:

Abdou Maiga, Hind Salama, Kokou Edoh Adabe

To help small farmers improve the cultivation and processing of pineapples, Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Cameroon pooled the expertise of a Malian rural agriculture engineer with experience in translating scientific jargon into plain language, a Moroccan environmental consultant with a PhD in Environmental Studies and a Togolese agro-economist and researcher for the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Benin. Within four weeks, the team created a comprehensive manual that will be made available free of charge to small farmers across the world.

Akanksha Gulia, Priyanka Ohri, Ritika Verma, Samarpita Mukherjee, Tarun Chawla

A team of five online volunteers, led by journalist and mass media specialist Ritika Verma, brought the Indian edition of the Youth-Leader Magazine to life. Hosted by the German Positive Nett-Works e.V. Association, it provides information on exemplary change initiatives, and solutions and tools for addressing development issues. It therefore inspires and empowers Indian youth to take their own initiatives forward to tackle local issues.

Anup Tiwari, Bibiana Restrepo, Edith Marie Garingalao, Halima Tahirkheli, Kylie Dirks, Paula Montoya, Pierre Talla, Radha Taralekar, Vy Nguyen

To most people living in the rural Ugandan village of Kitega, health care is not affordable. Therefore, the Kitega Community Centre (KCC) together with village elders decided that a scheme for low-cost health services and insurance was needed. Sharing their diverse medical expertise, a team of nine online volunteers, including an Indian doctor, a Colombian biomedical engineer, a Cameroonian Master student of Health Service Administration, a Filipino medical technology professional and an American nurse, empowered KCC to transform their plans into action.

Dan Frankowski

As online volunteer for Maventy Health International, Dan Frankowski led the development of the world‟s first online and mobile tool that allows the monitoring and assessment of children‟s growth and malnutrition based on WHO standards. The organization is currently using the tool in rural Northern Madagascar, where it is working to reduce early childhood mortality.

Dante Jiang, Qiuming Liao, Xinxin Sun, Zijian Zhang

Within three months, a team of four online volunteers translated more than 150 documents of the UN-Business partnership gateway www.business.un.org into Chinese. The portal, developed for the UN by the Hong-Kong-based NGO Global Hand, matches the needs of UN organizations with the resources and capacities of the private sector to address global challenges. The launch of the Chinese version together with the other official UN languages at the 2010 Global Compact Leaders' Summit in New York was a key step towards the portal‟s global outreach.

Edwin Cuenco

Online volunteer Edwin Cuenco teaches graphic design at Arkansas Tech University while providing pro bono graphic design services to various NGOs. The Association Against Women Export (AAWE) is one of the organizations that benefit from Edwin‟s award winning design skills. The promotional materials he developed have strengthened AAWE‟s capacities to advocate against human trafficking and contributed to raising funds for the organization‟s women empowerment projects in Edo State, Nigeria.

Joanna Borg

Joanna Borg helped the UNESCO World Heritage Marine Programme build an image database of World Heritage sites located in marine areas. The image database will help UNESCO increase the visibility of marine World Heritage sites and draw attention to the need to preserve these sites -- of outstanding universal value -- for future generations.

Maria Zandt

Maria Zandt facilitated the support provided by team of online volunteers to Wakitaka Youth Development Group (WYDG) through Nabuur, a network of global "neighbours". WYDG was founded by young people in Wakitaka village, Uganda. The youth were determined to bring new prospects and improve the living conditions for themselves and their community. By sharing their know-how and ideas, and linking them to donors, the volunteers helped WYDG address health issues and set up income-generating activities, from goat breeding and vegetable growing to candle crafting and tailoring.

Nan Zhang, Sumit Singh

Young People We Care (YPWC), a youth-led NGO based in Ghana, engaged two IT experts to develop an online portal dedicated to facilitating youth access to information on opportunities for self development. After the website‟s launch, the online volunteers stayed on to add new features, post opportunities and promote the portal on social network sites. The website currently receives 500 visitors per day in addition to positive feedback from users.

Rui Oliveira

Rui Oliveira, a retiree with more than 40 years of experience in the area of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), created a news portal for the Ghana-based NGO Volunteer Partnerships for West Africa (VPWA). The portal, which provides information for and about NGOs in Africa, has already reached 2,000 subscribers and an average of 15,000 visitors per month.

Congratulating the winners, UNV Executive Coordinator Flavia Pansieri emphasized their important role in achieving the MDGs. "We can meet the goals, but only if we complement essential government action with the engagement of millions of people through volunteer action", she said. Every year, more than 9,000 online volunteers engage in the work of non-profit development organizations through the UNV Online Volunteering service, which has entered its 10th year. Many non-governmental organizations, governments and United Nations agencies already recognize the value of online volunteering.

Kitega Community Centre public relations officer David Clemy said: "The online volunteers have provided us with the technical knowledge and tools that we will need to build a health cooperative in Kitega".

Kylie Dirks, online volunteer for Kitega Community Centre: "This experience has shown me just how many opportunities there are to get involved, and how many different ways you can do it. It has been really neat to see that people from all over the world can come together to work on a project for an entirely different place, and be successful in doing so. It has shown me how to utilize the resources and technology available to us today to collaborate with an international team of professionals in order to successfully complete a project."

The winners‟ stories are available on the UNV Online Volunteering service website: www.onlinevolunteering.org

The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is the UN organization that promotes volunteerism to support peace and development worldwide. Volunteerism can transform the pace and nature of development, and it benefits both society at large and the individual volunteer. UNV contributes to peace and development by advocating for volunteerism globally, encouraging partners to integrate volunteerism into development programming, and mobilizing volunteers.

The International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development (International Volunteer Day) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution A/RES/40/212 on 17 December 1985. Since then, governments, the UN system and civil society organizations have successfully joined volunteers around the world to celebrate the Day on 5 December. Learn more at www.worldvolunteerweb.org

For further information, contact:

Amina Said, Communications Unit, E-mail: amina.said@unvolunteers.org

Elise Bouvet, Online Volunteering service, E-mail: elise.bouvet@unvolunteers.org