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Putting their Lives Online
16 July 2009
by Caren Mercado
(
The Philippine Start, 21 June 2009)

Wayne
Wayne Bacale
(Strongly believing that volunteering is a powerful tool which contributes towards development, Wayne Bacale - a Filipino young man, has been an online volunteer in various placements since 2006. In May 2009, Wayne has officially joined the UNV family in Viet Nam and become an International UNV volunteer Specialist in Project Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) with the M&E Team in UNDP. According to Wayne, this is a rewarding and challenging role to provide technical support in M&E to enhance project implementation and build capacity of national partners in project monitoring and evaluation. Furthermore, online volunteering has already been part of him.)


MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos from various parts of the world continue the spirit of helping others help themselves through a new form of bayanihan: United Nations Volunteers (UNV) Online Volunteering service, a platform that puts volunteers in contact with organizations worldwide to work together for peace and development – over the Internet.

Distance, busy schedules and time difference do not hinder these online volunteers to share their skills and make a global change. These Filipino specialists in computer programming, development work, writing and editing have all used their abilities online to help others.

Edna Eufemio is a full-time professional and mother, but that doesn’t keep her from sharing time and knowledge over the web. One of the winners of Online Volunteering Awards 2006, Edna has helped Solidarity Tourism, an African non-government organization based in Madrid as project director for the Africania project, sharing her knowledge in tourism by helping them set up a travel network focused on Africa.

“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,” she says, emphasizing how much she enjoyed the experience.

Raphael Sadiwa, another Filipino online volunteer, found a sense of fulfillment creating online educational material. “When my students tell me that they find the course very helpful in their day to day activities with children, there is a sense that what I did truly benefited someone else,” he says.

Like Edna, Raphael is also an Online Volunteering awardee for 2007 working with the RESPECT University project in Canada. It assists refugees and internally displaced people by providing them with free post-secondary level correspondence courses. Raphael designs assignments for the students and gives them feedback on their work.

Wayne Bacale is currently volunteering as project coordinator for the Ghanaian NGO Young People We Care (YPWC). He has been developing the Youth Development Action Guide, to be released this year, which shows young people how they can contribute to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at a grassroots and national level.

“Online volunteering is an interesting and worthwhile learning experience. Aside from helping organizations all over the world, it gave me an opportunity to understand global issues and how we can contribute towards development in our own simple way,” Wayne shares.

Armin Prüssner, an American citizen who is part-German and part-Filipino, has been sharing his technical expertise in computer programming and web design to set up a web-based National UNV application system called “UNV-Apply.” This is the current system used by UNV Philippines in organizing volunteer applications.

“Volunteering is my way of supporting and contributing to the international community. As access to the Internet around the world is increasing, online volunteering becomes a convenient vehicle to make a difference in other regions that may have been inaccessible before.”

Edna, Raphael, Wayne and Armin are only four of the 545 Filipinos who have volunteered through the UNV Online Volunteering service. The service is sponsored by Irish Aid and Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs to help achieve the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and assist development in various parts of the world by knowledge and capacity sharing on the Internet.

More and more Filipinos have been inspired to join, like Schedar Jocson, a young instructor at the University of the Philippines-Diliman. He has just registered with the UNV Online Volunteering service and has already helped in proofreading and translating a manual about student volunteering into Filipino. He believes that the service holds great promise in the Philippines.

“It is an innate nature among Filipinos to help one another and this innate nature should be tapped by opening more opportunities for volunteer growth,” he said.

Renaud Meyer, Country Director of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), agrees. “Volunteering is about empowering people from the grassroots. With online volunteering, anyone can now play an active role in global development.”

Organizations who would like to involve online volunteers in their activities to strengthen the impact of their development work can register on www.onlinevolunteering.org.

Thousands of volunteers are ready to provide their support: professionals, students, retirees and expatriates from across the globe volunteer their skills online to help organizations address development challenges.
 
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