UN cites Pinoys for outstanding online volunteerism

UN cites Pinoys for outstanding online volunteerism
01/22/2011 | 04:45 PM

A Filipino graphic artist and a medical technologist are among the winners of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) program’s “Online Volunteering Award 2010," the Philippine Mission to the UN disclosed over the weekend.

Professor Edwin Cuenco and Edith Marie Garingalao were cited for their outstanding contributions to peace and development, and to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) through the internet.

"The Germany based UNV said Cuenco provided pro bono graphic design services to various NGOs, including the Association Against Women Export (AAWE)," the Mission said in a news release on its website.

Cuenco, an award-winning graphic designer who teaches graphic design at the Arkansas Tech University, developed promotional materials that “strengthened AAWE’s capacities to advocate against human trafficking and contributed to raising funds for the organization’s women empowerment projects in Edo State, Nigeria."

His volunteer work focused on MDG goal 3, which is to promote gender equality and empower women.

“Online volunteering completely changed my life... I volunteer online because it is my civic and moral duty. I have learned that if we do not help each other nothing will ever be sustainable," Cuence said in the release.

“This makes me feel good as I do remember growing up in poor and indigent surroundings. Since then I swore that I would give back in any way I could. As I enjoy my online volunteer experience, I plan to keep on helping to the extent that I am able for my entire life," he added.

On the other hand, Garingalao, a medical technology professional, was part of the Kitega Community Center (KCC) team which identified possible health service models and assessed their relevance for Kitega, a small rural town in Uganda.

The teams’ contributions focused on MDGs 4 to 6, which are to reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; and combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases.

“I was in Uganda in 2002 and saw first-hand how the people there tend to cope especially in terms of health issues. When this project was offered, I thought it would be great to share what I know to help the people and also learn from their traditional understanding of such issues." Garingalao said.

A jury of experts in volunteerism and development cooperation, including UNV representatives from country offices and headquarters, chose the winners based on their commitment and contributions, the results of their collaboration, and their impact on the activities of the non-profit development organizations they supported.

Philippine Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Libran Cabactulan said the recent recognition demonstrated the ability of Filipinos to contribute to development beyond the Philippines through their experience, expertise and knowledge of information and communications technology.

He said the passion and creativity of Filipinos can be tapped to help move many development organizations – both within and outside the Philippines - towards accomplishing their goals and, consequently, in achieving MDGs.

In a statement, UNV Executive Coordinator Flavia Pansieri emphasized volunteers’ important role in achieving the MDGs.

“We can meet the goals, but only if we complement essential government action with the engagement of millions of people through volunteer action," she said.

The Mission noted that, every year, more than 9,000 online volunteers engage in non-profit development organization work through the UNV Online Volunteering service, which has entered its 10th year. — TJD/JA, GMANews.TV

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