Volunteering at UNIFEM's e-Village
Lib and Mleih, Jordan: Jordanian women are empowering each other via a unique Information and Communications Technology (ICT) project, driven largely by national UNV volunteers.
The villages of Lib and Mleih near Amman are piloting the 'e-Village Project'. It involves a number of sub-programmes employing the latest technology. The e-Village activities are designed to improve the lives of women, prioritizing those with low income and those who would not normally be able to access these types of services.
UNV Jordan's Programme Officer Hyeran Kim said: "The main purpose of the project is to establish a vibrant and economically independent rural community where ICT is deployed to achieve a better quality of life for all its citizens - particularly women and girls."
Within the e-Village project is a volunteerism programme with the objective of involving the local community in their own development. UNV is also involved in the e-Village's information and awareness programme.
After more than three years of service, eight Jordanian national UNV volunteers recently completed their assignments. "The UNV volunteers have been the main driving sources for the e-Village project from the beginning and the end of its project phases," remarked Ms. Kim.
As the main coordinators of the project, the UNV volunteers have been instrumental in promoting volunteerism within the target villages and mobilizing local volunteers to help run the project. Each UNV volunteer was also in charge of implementing one component of the project: for example, income-generating training, IT training, youth clubs, film clubs, and so on.
Shoa’a Al Tawalbeh has been involved with the e-Village since 2004, and from 2007 as a UNV volunteer she acted as the Intel Computer Clubhouse Coordinator and Lego Robotics Coordinator. She coordinated and managed all activities there, designing skills workshops for youth and teachers alike. Her assignment even took her to Boston, Massachusetts, to attend a 'teen summit' with three of the clubhouse members.
Ms. Al Tawalbeh lists one of her achievements as opening a programme for volunteers from the local community to help out at the Intel Clubhouse. "The number of volunteers who joined the programme was more than 30 over three years," she said.
Community volunteers have made a great contribution firstly by identifying the specific needs of the target villages, and then putting together visual materials such as video clips. These are then used as awareness-raising tools to advocate the necessity of intervention.
"My aim was to forge links between the work of women's organizations and with programmes focused on youth and development," she adds. "I wanted the Intel club in the e-village to be sustainable, and to grow with its members and volunteers. Our aim when we started was to develop our communities and then work more and more to reach the summit."
With its special emphasis on women, the project is implemented by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) as part of its partnership with the Jordanian Ministry of Information and Communications Technology. Corporate partners include Cisco, Intel, Lego and Microsoft, with the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology also involved.
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