28 June 2005
Those who see the Internet as a means for people to contribute to development have 10 new best examples to demonstrate the many ways people can, by way of volunteering online, engage in the work of development organizations worldwide.
The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme and its Online Volunteering (OV) service today announced the winners of its “Online Volunteers of the Year” award for 2005. The 10 online volunteers were selected on the basis of their drive, creativity and enthusiasm in supporting the work of the United Nations, NGOs and other organizations in the efforts to reach sustainable human development.
The winners were chosen by a jury of UNV representatives and external experts in information and communication technologies (ICT) for development and volunteerism. The OV service, celebrating its fifth year in operation, connects organizations with a diverse, abundant pool of people who possess a variety of skills, expertise, and most importantly, the will to volunteer.
Hailing from 10 countries - from Madagascar to Pakistan - this year’s OV award winners have had tremendous roles in projects taking shape in Africa, the Arab States, Asia, and Latin America. They have engaged in a spectrum of initiatives that touch upon some of the biggest challenges facing developing countries. For example, they have:
- Researched, summarized and posted weekly updates on the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa on a website dedicated solely to educating Africans about the disease;
- Translated research on street children from Spanish to Portuguese to make experiences obtained in Argentina, Colombia, and Mexico available to community workers in Brazil;
- Organized a French letter exchange programme between Francophone refugee students in the DR Congo, Cameroon, and Tanzania and partner schools in France, Canada, Russia, and Brazil for an international refugee organization that had operated entirely in English before;
- Coordinated an international team of online volunteers to develop a web portal to promote volunteerism in Egypt;
- Designed a professional website for a Nigeria-based NGO that provides youth with information on the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
The Online Volunteers of the Year 2005, their nationality, and host organizations are:
Congratulating the winners, UNV Executive Coordinator Ad de Raad said the efforts of the online volunteers serve as an example of the power of volunteering for development. “This group of dedicated volunteers represents the very best of what ordinary citizens can do online to help overcome poverty, fight the spread of HIV/AIDS, and support the advancement of human development worldwide in general,” he said. “The purpose of this award is to not only recognize their contributions to development, but to demonstrate to others what they can do to support international efforts to free the world from want.”
For the organizations that work with online volunteers, the OV service provides an indispensable resource: access to a world of skills and expertise. “Without the support of online volunteers, Shine a Light would be infinitely less capable [of] supporting Latin American organizations that serve homeless and working children,” said Kurt Shaw, executive director of Shine a Light. “This service has been invaluable for us, and we thank [OV] sincerely for providing the space in which small NGOs like Shine a Light can find the qualified volunteers we need.”
Since the start of OV in March 2000, some 38,000 people have registered with the OV service, To date, online volunteers have engaged in more than 10,000 assignments with about 530 organizations from the North and South who work to eradicate extreme hunger, empower women, educate children, and reach towards the other objectives outlined within the framework of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).