The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme announced this week the five winners of the "UNV Online Volunteering Award 2015" and launched a global voting campaign for the public's favourite winner.
Through the UNV Online Volunteering service, UNV mobilizes every year more than 11,000 UN Online Volunteers who undertake more than 17,000 online volunteering assignments. 60 percent of UN Online Volunteers come from the global South.
Congratulating the winners, UNV Executive Coordinator Richard Dictus emphasized that "In recent years we have witnessed significant changes in the way volunteerism organizes itself, is managed, and flexibly solves problems in an increasingly technology-enabled world. Online volunteering unlocks innovative spaces for individuals to engage, acquire voice and contribute to global development. These winning teams are striking examples of how people pool their energies together and align their interests for social objectives".
In the lead up to International Volunteer Day (IVD) on 5 December, UNV invites citizens worldwide to be inspired by the winners' stories and participate in the global voting for their favourite winner on onlinevolunteering.org.
The winners' stories have been published on the Online Volunteering service website, where anyone can vote for their favourite winners. The team that gets the most votes will be announced as the public's favourite on IVD.
Agriculteurs Professionels du Cameroun Team: Since June 2014, a team of UN Online Volunteers have been collaborating with Agriculteurs Professionels du Cameroun (AGRIPO), a community-led innovative rural development programme operating in the village of Tayap, situated in the rainforest of the Congo basin of central Cameroon. The volunteers contributions have enabled the implementation of a major project on adaptation and climate change mitigation, and supported the organization to improve and scale up its programmes through securing grants and international recognition.
Fundación de Comunidades Vulnerables de Colombia Team: UN Online Volunteers have been an unparalleled professional asset to the Foundación Comunidades Vulnerables de Colombia (FUNCOVULC), a non-profit organization committed to the identification and comprehensive care of individuals suffering from Huntington Disease and other Rare Diseases in Colombia. Thanks to UN Online Volunteer Anahi Silva's technical support, a research project about the Huntington Disease in Colombia turned into a scientific paper.
Hunger Reduction International Team: Hunger Reduction International (HRI) is a Somalian relief and humanitarian development organization established in 2011, working in partnership with local communities to alleviate the impact of hunger on the lives of poor and vulnerable individuals. Prerna Bakshi became a UN Online Volunteer for HRI in 2013. The online collaboration had a profound impact not only on the organization's internal capacity building, partnership growth and visibility increase, it also changed radically the course of Prerna´s ambitions, and opened new academic avenues.
Seeds Performing Arts Theatre Group Team: The traditional belief in sorcery is used to justify violence against women in Papua New Guinea. For more than 12 years, Seeds Performing Arts Theatre Group has been using theatre drama to raise awareness on issues affecting the local rural population, including violence against women. Opening up to digital media to increase outreach, Seeds teamed up with a group of UN Online Volunteers to develop a rich screenplay for a video about the specific gender-based violence associated with witch hunting.
UN Women Team: Three UN Online Volunteers substantially contributed to the conceptualization and implementation of I am (wo)man, a digital media campaign run by UN Women Knowledge Gateway for Women's Economic Empowerment calling on individuals worldwide to share personal stories about women's economic empowerment.
The 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 organizations they supported. Besides UNV representatives from Field Units and headquarters, the jury included:
- Ms. Anja Pauls, Deputy Head, UN Division, German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
- Dr. Linda Hajjhussein, Head, School Quality Assurance Unit, Lebanon Office, UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)
- Ms. Rebeca Grynspan, Ibero-American Secretary General, Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB)
- Mr. Sami Dob, Program Director, Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility, Ericsson
- Ms. Syrah Ahidra, Exchange Participant, AIESEC IF Côte d'Ivoire