Online Volunteering Award 2006
- Ayan Humbert-Droz (Australia) - Native Planet (U.S.A.)
- Dieudonné Amisi Mutambala (D.R. Congo) - RESPECT Refugee Education Sponsorship Program (Canada)
- Edna Eufemio (Philippines) and Lakshmi Poorna (India) - Solidarity Tourism (Spain)
- Lourdes Sada (Spain) - Community Empowerment Collective Society (Canada) and PEOI, Professional Education Organization International (U.S.A.)
- Minh Vo (Viet Nam) - PEOI, Professional Education Organization International (U.S.A.)
- Rajaa Habeeb Abdullah Allwatiah (Oman) - HASCO, Help Afghan School Children Org (Austria)
- Raul Alberto Caceres (Colombia) - NABUUR (The Netherlands)
- Shane Messer (U.S.A.) - LWOB, Lawyers Without Borders (U.S.A.)
- Solomon Sackitey (Ghana) - DatelineHealth Africa Inc. (U.S.A.)
- Su Melser (Costa Rica) and Delia Tasso (Italy) - International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (China)
Contribution to achieving MDG8: Develop a global partnership for development
Millennium Campaign: "No Excuses, Promises Must be Kept"
Ayan started in 2005 as an online volunteer researcher with Native Planet's Indigenous Mapping Project to compile and publish information about indigenous groups in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The NGO is dedicated to the self-empowerment of indigenous peoples worldwide and to the preservation of their cultures by offering them a global presence through photo documentaries and cultural ecotourism, as well as offering help through humanitarian projects.
Ayan was soon made Project Manager due to her outstanding communication skills, unflagging enthusiasm and diverse professional skills. She mobilized a growing team of 80 online volunteers and, trained new team leaders. She Ayan demonstrated creativity in motivating volunteers from 45 countries and in fostering a community feeling in a virtual environment, thus improving the volunteers’ commitment to produce both quantity and quality - more than 300 indigenous groups were covered during the year. She strengthened the project’s infrastructure and contributed many innovations, including the data presentation on the website, and the designing of a business plan as well as public relations and marketing strategies, all of which greatly impacted the project’s efficiency.
The innovations Ayan introduced to the project, and her determination to make the best out of the limited resources at hand, have greatly added to Native Planet’s mission of giving a global voice to indigenous peoples.
"Online volunteering will open up doors that you never expected, it will educate you, it will open your mind to new perspectives, it will ignite your imagination and allow you to make a personal impact on issues that are close to your heart."
Contribution to achieving MDG6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; MDG8: Develop a global partnership for development
The RESPECT Refugees Education Sponsorship Programme aims to raise awareness of refugee issues among youths and to build bridges between refugee and non-refugee students through pen-pal letter exchange. Dieudonné played an important role in making RESPECT well known in the South Kivu Region and in implementing its programme there.
Between 2004 and 2006, Dieudonné coordinated a team of 30 to 40 volunteers and teachers to enable around 800 refugee students aged 5 to 30, from 31 schools in South Kivu, to exchange letters with youths in Europe and America. Despite the difficult context in Kivu (lack of electricity, bad infrastructures, etc.), he was an example of honest commitment and devotion to the task, keeping up constant communication with RESPECT via emails from cyber cafés. He planned and coordinated activities, disseminated information relevant for partners and participants, and organized an HIV/AIDS training for the benefit of 60 members of local NGOs.
Dieudonné contributed to educating people on the realities of refugee life and to facilitating the psychological reconstruction of youths in a country seriously affected by years of war. He helped to further integrate stakeholders’ analyses and strategies into proposals of decision-makers for bringing about adequate change in the region. RESPECT stresses the fact that no programme would have been possible in South Kivu without Dieudonné’s invaluable help.
"Volunteering online has opened my view on both local and international realities… It also helped me integrate the situation of my community and my country into the global context."
Contribution to achieving MDG1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Solidarity Tourism is an NGO and host to the Africania project, which aims to establish and expand a solidarity tourism network in African countries, offering development opportunities for local communities, as well as the chance for travelers to learn about and take part in African community life. 95 percent of the Africania project is facilitated by a dedicated team of online volunteers.
Edna is a fulltime professional and mother, nevertheless she joined Africania as Project Director, devoting the evening hours to sharing her expertise in the tourism business. She contributed ideas for Africania’s solidarity tours, managed volunteers, improved presentations and communications, and networked with other organizations, playing a huge role in expanding Africania’s audience and making the project a success. Her volunteering work has also impacted Edna’s personal life, as it helped her discover new directions for her future career.
“Volunteering online allows one the opportunity to become a fulfilled individual, as I believe that one’s real worth is not measured by how much one has in life but by how one shares what one has, and consequently makes others’ lives better.”
Lakshmi found her role as Team Leader for Writers and Web Researchers a perfect opportunity to match her interest in journalism and public relations with her desire to make a difference in spite of her career constraints. She has been responsible for the project’s information base, the website content and newsletter, and coordinated a team of 40 online volunteers. She interviewed African host families who wish to participate in the solidarity trip programme and wrote articles about tourist attractions in African countries.
“I learn a lot on completion of each assignment and I am sure it definitively adds value to my career and life.”
Both contributed to improving the project’s efficiency and helped it reach out to higher numbers of travelers, foster intercultural relationships and bring direct economic benefit to the local communities.
Lourdes Sada (Spain) - Community Empowerment Collective Society (Canada) and PEOI, Professional Education Organization International (U.S.A.)
Contribution to achieving MDG 8: Develop a global partnership for development
Lourdes is Coordinator for Spanish Translations with the Community Empowerment Collective Society and PEOI, two organizations that provide online training material and courses free of charge. The courses are available to the global public and benefit especially low-income communities, empowering them to work towards sustainable development.
As a mother, Lourdes says that volunteering online gives her the chance to help others while allowing her to look after her family. She has no professional background in translation; still she has been able to contribute immensely, building on her passion for translation and natural talent for languages. She translated over 200 training pages into Spanish; mobilized, managed and guided online volunteers; coached team coordinators for other languages and introduced new online software for translating web pages. She took it upon herself to learn about community empowerment practices and brought innovative ideas with regard to the other organization’s structure and appearance.
Lourdes, in going far beyond her assigned tasks, has encouraged volunteers to make a difference even if they do not have professional training or a degree. Thanks to her, both of her host organizations have succeeded in reaching people in Spanish-speaking countries, providing them with valuable materials for self-empowerment.
“The best this activity has taught me is that there are wonderful persons in the world who care about people, who are patient, sweet and kind, and especially, I’ve learned about humility and love, about people who give everything, even if all they have is their time.”
Contribution to achieving MDG6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
PEOI provides complete university level courses online free of charge to anyone in the world and has as its goal to help disadvantaged students and aspiring professionals to improve their lives and help their country.
Minh is a national of Viet Nam and holds a Doctorate in Pharmacy. She has been involved in training healthcare professionals in her home country and appreciates the possibilities which online volunteering offers of sustaining her volunteer training efforts combined with a busy schedule as full-time scientist at an international pharmaceutical company. In just six months, she created two advanced professional courses on pharmacokinetics. The first course she produced is the equivalent of a 500-page textbook, and her host organization estimates that she invested more than one thousand hours into writing the material for these full-fledged university-level courses.
Minh’s online courses will be translated into eleven other languages and are a wonderful example of knowledge transfer, as they will reach and benefit people in her home country as well as in many other countries and remote areas around the world.
“Online volunteering increases the efficiency and effectiveness of the volunteer and… significantly opens up a wide range of opportunities of what one can do to benefit others.”
Contribution to achieving MDG2: Achieve universal primary education
HASCO helps Afghan families and refugees provide their children with education, and supports them with school supplies and a sponsorship programme. HASCO also promotes capacity-building initiatives for schools in Afghanistan’s eastern provinces.
Rajaa, a mother of five and head of the English department at a school in Oman, holds a BA in Middle East Studies and is currently doing an MA in Translation. She discovered the Online Volunteering service in 2005 through research related to one of the classes she taught, and immediately wanted to help bring education to Afghan children. She translated texts, letters and other documents from English into Arabic, advised on content, and supported HASCO in its networking activities.
Her contribution has helped her host organization reach out to people in Arabic countries and to win wider support for education in Afghanistan. Despite a very busy schedule, Rajaa has demonstrated great dedication to promoting and supporting educational programmes in Afghanistan and to help children build a better future.
“Anyone who wants to be an online volunteer: don't hesitate because online volunteering will give you much more than you think.”
Contribution to achieving MDG1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; MDG4: Reduce child mortality
Raul joined NABUUR, an NGO that gives local communities in developing countries access to their global neighbours’ knowledge and energy, as an online volunteer in 2005 to help the village of Gbongay, Sierra Leone. The village had lost everything during the civil war. The school and hospital were destroyed and its inhabitants no longer had access to safe water. Because of waterborne diseases, three infants died over a short period.
Raul, who is from Colombia and has a professional background in engineering and food science, worked in close contact with the local community to design a honey production business generating income for the community, and a strategy to provide the village with safe drinking water. He managed the project, juggling the community’s needs and constraints, and initiated strategic contacts with development organizations and business partners. He carefully selected and coordinated a team of twenty online volunteers and demonstrated strong leadership skills in guiding them into clear and focused actions. He also managed to balance the cultural differences within the team of volunteers from Turkey, Ghana, Canada and the Netherlands to ensure an effective and mutually inspirational collaboration.
Today, things are looking better for the village of Gbongay. A carpentry shop has been set up for building hives, 35 heads of families have graduated from the beekeeping school, and the community found its first customers for buying honey. Two water pumps have been installed, with two water tanks to follow soon. No more children have died since.
“Originally I was a bit sceptical about what might be possible to achieve working online… However, after having organised work and seeing the efforts of a group of skilled and very motivated people, I could see we were able to achieve big things in a short period of time.”
Contribution to achieving MDG1: Eradicate extreme poverty, MDG8: Develop a global partnership for development
Lawyers Without Borders engage lawyers from around the world to create a global network and clearinghouse for the delivery of quality pro bono legal service to support human rights, governance, transitional justice and capacity building initiatives.
Shane felt it was his turn to help economically challenged people like he was in the past. He found volunteering online as Business Consultant and Web Development Advisor for LWOB a highly effective, exciting and rewarding way of helping to fight poverty and sharing his expertise as owner of a venture capital firm. By integrating commercial business models and principles into the organization’s existing projects, he has been pivotal to yield greater results. He guided the organization to shape its programmes, contributed to set a reliable financial base, developed an automated matching system and web site, created a pioneering database, and has been assisting LWOB’s governance since joining their board.
Shane has played an important role in helping LWOB reach self-sufficiency, optimizing its pro-bono legal counsel, and demonstrating ways in which the legal profession could benefit and make valuable contributions to sustainable development.
“Every minute you wait is a minute in which you could have helped. Act now.”
Contribution to achieving MDG6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Originally from Ghana, Solomon is Senior Regulatory Affairs Specialist at a global animal health corporation in the United States. As an online volunteer, he is the West African subeditor for health research reports for DatelineHealth Africa, an NGO that works to support healthier living and contributes to the reduction of poverty in Africa through provision of access to health, disease management and sustainable development information.
Solomon identified, evaluated and collated research reports and abstracts of health and medical studies from a number of West African countries, contributing up to fifteen percent every month to his host organization’s web site content. He was particularly proactive in helping to bridge the information gap with respect to the possible threat of the Avian influenza, popularly known as “bird flu”, to African societies: he initiated, developed and launched a dedicated and regularly updated webpage for DatelineHealth Africa, providing information resources on the disease. He also wrote and published an article on containment and preparedness strategies for the epidemic in Africa.
Solomon’s contribution has been picked up for wider dissemination by many reputable health information providers in Africa, and has thus helped raise Africa’s awareness on Avian influenza and expanded the African healthcare authorities’ resources to formulate policies and disaster preparation plans.
“Online volunteering is a self-rewarding, self-paced project that reaches out to touch the lives of people in a world without borders. Once you become a member of this multinational community, you would never want to leave.”
Su Melser (Costa Rica) and Delia Tasso (Italy) - International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (China)
Contribution to achieving MDG1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger and MDG7: Ensure environmental sustainability
The International Network for Bamboo and Rattan works to improve the living conditions of producers and users of bamboo and rattan and to promote use of these raw materials in the context of sustainable development. Online volunteers have contributed to extending the organization’s outreach to stakeholders in Latin America.
Su has just been appointed Chief Editor of the Spanish team of online translators. Her background in agronomy proved to be particularly useful for translating the organisation’s web pages and the six-monthly newsletter, as well as external documents for the last two years.
Delia has been a freelance translator/reviser until she had a serious accident, which put her professional activities on hold. As an online volunteer, she translated a technical book about bamboo for INBAR, a plant species in which she is very interested, as well as articles, brochures, course materials and reports for INBAR and various other organizations using the Online Volunteering service.
Su and Delia’s translations into Spanish improved INBAR’s visibility and effectiveness in Latin America and facilitated the organization’s awareness of local initiatives. They enabled knowledge sharing, helped grow South-South partnerships and foster replication of best practices.
Su believes “that to be able to achieve the goal of improving livelihoods and to eradicate poverty it is important to inform and help people in the language that they understand best.”