Online volunteer for Leaders of Tomorrow International in Cameroon
Maria Jakimovska, a business development specialist born and raised in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, supported the newly formed Cameroonian youth-led organization Leaders of Tomorrow International (LOTI) in launching its first programme: an IT centre that offers underprivileged students free Internet access and training to pursue academic studies online, in addition to scholarships that the organization negotiates with different universities.
Shortly after its creation in April 2010, LOTI pulled together a team of online volunteers. Maria Jakimovska was tasked with coordinating their activities while coaching Fai Cedric Yengo, the founder and director of LOTI, on managing and leading a team.
Maria quickly expanded her support, guiding the organization in defining its programme and marketing strategy, helping with the identification of online universities and funding possibilities, and drafting letters of intent and funding proposals. “I consider this my second job,” Maria Jakimovska describes her engagement with LOTI.
The joint efforts led to LOTI’s cooperation with the University of the People, a US based tuition-free online university, as well as the Dutch organization Charity Hands, which funds the centre’s Internet connection. LOTI’s being amongst the winners of the Pearson Fellowship for Social Innovation, which is awarded to outstanding social entrepreneurship projects, was another success achieved through its collaboration with Maria.
“Maria’s contribution to LOTI is immeasurable. She has been of help to us since our inception and has taught us a lot. Her efforts have contributed to LOTI’s development and today several students are benefiting from free basic computer training and access to higher education,” says Fai.
“This online volunteering experience, even though it might sound like a cliché, has been one of the things in my life for which I actually get more back than I give. There is no greater good than being able to communicate, share a vision and develop something with people from different cultures.”
And she is convinced: “No matter who the winner of this year’s award is, I am very sure he or she wins on behalf of all of us volunteers out there. Being a volunteer means sharing a bond with all other volunteers in the world. Being a volunteer and seeing the results of one’s work make a difference to someone else – that’s all the reward one needs.”
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